Fred McMurray feature
Fred McMurray was a sound right hand batsman, who usually opened the innings, and a highly capable wicket keeper.
Though he never attained the footballing heights of his elder brother Tom, he was also a more than useful performer in the winter game.
He was, for many years, one of the leading batsmen for the Central Presbyterian Association (CPA) Club, before spending his final years as a player with North Down.
Unfortunately, he played for the Comber side during its less successful days, but he did appear for CPA in one NCU Challenge Cup Final, that of 1948 against Woodvale. This match, it could be argued, showed his value to his side as a player, even though they lost a hard fought match by three wickets and Fred failed with the bat.
He kept wicket well, holding good catches in the first innings to dispose of the Ballygomartin dangermen in Larry Warke (2) and Billy McCleery (5) so enabling CPA to post a 19 run first innings lead. He had made 13 at No 2 in CPA's first innings, falling to Billy McKee, one of three international new ball bowlers in the Woodvale side.
Unfortunately Fred managed only 9 in the second innings going this time to the nagging medium pace of Harry Armstrong, but as Woodvale struggled towards their eventual win against some effective bowling from Tom Newburn, his wicket keeping was a constant threat. By again catching McCleery for a single figure score, he ensured that they had no easy path to the trophy.
He first played for Ireland in a non cap, one day - or rather one afternoon - match against the Minor Counties at Rathmines in 1937. This game was hastily arranged when the three day encounter between the two sides ended before lunch on the third day, with a convincing home win.
Another match then began with Ireland batting. In no time they were 29-9 at which point a declaration was made. Fred, who had come into an otherwise unchanged side for George Crothers, was 6* at No 8.
The Irish batting had been swept aside by the Cheshire batsman Leslie Jones, who had hardly bowled in the official game. Minor Counties won by 5 wickets and batted on to 122-9. Interestingly, though Fred had replaced Crothers, it appears that Frank Reddy of Leinster kept wicket, for at least part of the time, as he is recorded as having made a stumping.
The visitors included two players of some interest, DCH Townsend, who had played three Tests for England in the West Indies in 1934/35 but never played county cricket and Yorkshire born London school master Horace Brearley, whose son, born some five years later, was to become rather better known on the cricket field!
Fred's only official Irish appearance came against Scotland in College Park in June 1939. He came in as one of four late replacements, Ireland being, in all, short of seven of a full strength team.
Unsurprisingly they lost heavily, the first time the Scots had won in Ireland since 1929. Again low in the order at 8, Fred failed making only 5 and 4, falling to the visitors' pacemen, namely John Farquhar in the first innings and William Dippe in the second.
The outbreak of war prevented Alfred McMurray from having a second chance for the national side, though he did, as we have seen, continue to play for some years after the conflict.
Then another valuable cricket career opened for him. He became a popular and highly respected umpire.
Have you any comment to make on any aspect of this article? What are your views on any of the opinions expressed in it? Have your say on the CricketEurope Ireland Forum.