Oscar Andrews: a tireless paceman and dashing batsman who well deserved his sobriquet "The Champion Cricketer".
A member of a family that dominated much of the political and economic fabric of Ulster for more than half a century, and also produced two generations of leading sportsmen, Oscar Andrews was tall and bespectacled. He made his debut for North Down in the Junior Cup final in 1891 and for the First XI in 1893 when he also first appeared for NICC. After this he played mainly for the Comber club until about 1900, when the demands of business kept him more in Belfast. So a permanent move to NICC came about. He had already scored 148* for the Ormeau club against the Dublin club Pembroke. His best match for North Down was, arguably, the NCU cup final in 1897. Playing against NICC he dominated the bowling scoring 73 and 100 to set up a 174 run victory, besides hitting the first cup final century. His move to NICC began a period of great success for the club. Captain from 1902 to 1919, he scored over 12500 runs and took more than 1500 wickets, including a hundred each season from 1901 to 1905. He regularly topped both sets of averages. As a batsman his highest score was 186, one of at least 13 centuries.
The gloriously fine summer of 1911 saw him total 1508 runs for the season. He had another outstanding all round match in the 1912 NCU cup final. Playing against rivals, the Ulster club he took 15 wickets for 61 in the match, including a record making second innings return of 26.5- 5-44-9. He also made 57. He was first selected for Ireland against the South Africans in 1901. However, in company with players from most of the Dublin clubs he withdrew in protest against Phoenix CC assuming control of the team selection and organisation of the match. The dispute was healed in 1902 and he was the one Ulster player included in the touring team to England, which played Ireland's first ever first class match. Bowling he took 2 for 8 against London County, and as a batsman, had two undefeated twenties. Back home he hit a brilliant century in the Interprovincial with Leinster. He should have played a great many more times for Ireland, but he was not always available and selection disputes rumbled on. He did go on the 1909 tour of Canada and the USA but, in company with several of the other Irish batsmen, was an almost complete failure in the cap matches, finding the bowling of the great Bart King very taxing.
In 1910, he was asked to captain the Irish side v Scotland in College Park, but had to decline. His final match was against I Zingari at the Vice Regal ground in 1906, the last match at this historic venue. It was 12-a-side and was watched by large crowds who saw Andrews' best performance for Ireland, as he hit a brisk 41. As a great captain, tireless paceman and dashing batsman, he well deserved his sobriquet "The Champion Cricketer". He also found time to win four Irish caps at Hockey in 1888 - 89. His obituary which might be said to sell him short is in Wisden 1957.
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