Tom Casey was a very good all round cricketer
Tom Casey was a very good all round cricketer, who was regarded as one of the best Irish batsmen of his age, though he had one major technical flaw. Pat Hone in "Cricket In Ireland" refers to an article in the "The Weekly Irish Times" (1905) in which Tom is described as "the greatest run getter" with the qualification that, "his style of play was an abomination for he played every second ball across his wicket." As this most certainly did not impede his run getting, it may be possible that he was blessed with a good eye and strong forearms and wrists.
Having developed his skills for the game at Royal School Armagh, always a splendid nursery for the game, Tom entered Dublin University in 1862, being a member of the XI from that summer until 1867, being captain in his final season. Unfortunately no averages were kept for the first of his three years , but it is probable that his best season was his last when he scored 531 runs at 37.13, with a highest score of 109, besides taking 17 wickets at 5.40.
He was, however, a key batsman in the University's Past and Present sides - often in company with his younger brother Philip - both during his time in the XI and for a decade after he began his legal career. While still an undergraduate in 1867, he came in at No 4 v I Zingari and hit a quickfire 71 putting on 104 for the third wicket with William Hone, snr. They were the only two batsmen who could make anything of the bowling of fast underarmer Osbert Mordaunt, a member of a well known cricket family. Tom also had 3-25 in the second innings, but was unable to prevent the Zingaros winning by 8 wickets. He was often prominent in the matches against the professional XIs. In 1877 he topscored in both innings for XVIII of the University Past and Present v the All England XI. Batting at , he made 21 and 25. Also keeping wicket in the match, he made six dismissals, thus playing a memorable part in a famous 42 runs victory. His swansong in such matches was for the University XVIII against the 1880 Australians, led by the redoubtable Billy Murdoch, who was - until recently - the only Australian captain to lose two Ashes series in England. Murdoch, incidentally, later played for England against South Africa. History, one feels, is unlikely to repeat itself in this direction! In the match in question, the Australians were surprised by the intensity of the University's attack, but in the end the hosts had to struggle to hold on for a draw. Tom played a major part in this, finishing on 17*, defying the tourists much vaunted attack of Spofforth, the man who was to create the Ashes legend two years later by destroying England at The Oval, as well as Boyle and Palmer, who were not far behind "The Demon" in effectiveness.
What might be termed Tom's first representative match had come in 1863, when he topscored with 30* in the second innings for South v North, though the composition of both teams suggests that geography was not a prime criterion for selection. His debut for Ireland came in an odds match in May 1865, when he played for XXII against the United South of England XI. In fact Tom's best performances were to be in odds or 12 a side matches, he made little impact in eleven a side games.
None of the matches just described will be found in Tom's statistics on this site as they involved more than 11 players in at least one side. However full scores and reports may be found by following the links in the Statszone. As mentioned above Tom did little in his five eleven a side matches, though his best score was a significant contribution. This was for Ireland v MCC at Lord's in 1867. On a difficult wicket, he came in at No 3, after Ireland had batted first. Only he (16) and the surviving opener HH Montgomery(37) reached double figures, but Ireland's total of 100 was to prove enough to win the match with MCC failing against the bowling of WS Hunt who swept all before him in what was, astonishingly, his only match for Ireland.
Professional obligations forced Thomas Julian Smith Casey out of regular cricket, but not end his interest and influence on the game. For a number of years, until the formation of the abortive Irish Cricket Union in 1890, he and Captain RH Fowler chose most of the Irish teams which took the field. He also continued to watch cricket as much as possible, still being a spectator at Phoenix matches in the early 1930s.
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