PHOTOGRAPHED 11 MAY 2008
The two clubs in my photographs are both close to the Wellington Monument is Phoenix Park and I have not visited the immediate area again since 11 May 2008.
Cricket was introduced to Ireland by the English in the towns of Kilkenny and Ballinasloe in the early 19th century. In the 1830s, the game began to spread; many of the clubs which were founded in the following 30 years are still in existence today. The first Irish national team played in 1855 against The Gentlemen of England in Dublin. In the 1850s, the Englishman Charles Lawrence was responsible for developing the game in Ireland through his coaching. In the 1850s and 1860s, Ireland was visited for the first time by touring professional teams. Ireland’s first match against Marylebone Cricket Club (the M.C.C.) was in 1858.
The game gained popularity until the early 1880s. The land war in the 1880s resulting from the Irish Land Commission and a ban on playing “foreign” games, in practice, British, by the Gaelic Athletic Association set back the spread of cricket. The ban was lifted in 1970, and before then anyone playing foreign games, such as cricket was banned from the Irish games such as hurling and Gaelic football. Irish teams toured Canada and the US in 1879, 1888, 1892, and 1909. On top of this, Ireland defeated a touring South African side in 1904. Their first match with first-class status was played on 19 May 1902 against a London County side including W.G. Grace. The Irish, captained by Sir Tim O’Brien, won convincingly by 238 runs.
In January 2012 Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom publicly declared Ireland’s ambition to play Test cricket by 2020. Their desire to achieve Test status was in part to stem the tide of Irish players using residency rules to switch to England for the opportunity to play Test cricket. Deutrom outlined the ambition as he unveiled the new strategic plan for Irish cricket to 2015. The plan set out a series of stretching goals including increasing the number of participants in the game to 50,000, setting a target of reaching 8th in the World rankings, establishing a domestic first-class cricket structure, and reinforcing cricket as the fifth most popular team sport in Ireland.
Deutrom had already sent a letter to the ICC in 2009 stating his board’s intention to apply for Full Membership – a potential pathway to Test cricket – and to seek clarification on the process. Former Australian bowler Jason Gillespie said that if Ireland got Test status it “would be huge news in world cricket, and it would be a massive positive story for the world game”. Following Ireland’s victory over the West Indies in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, former fast bowler Michael Holding said that the International Cricket Council should grant Ireland Test status immediately, saying “they need to be recognised now”. The ICC said in 2015 that Ireland would be granted Test status in 2019 should they win the 2015–17 ICC Intercontinental Cup and beat the 10th ranked Test nation in a four-match Test series in 2018.
However, on 22 June 2017, after more than a decade of playing top-class international cricket, full ICC membership was granted to Ireland (along with Afghanistan) at an ICC meeting in London, thus making them the eleventh Test cricket team. In October 2017, the ICC announced that Ireland’s first Test match would be at home against Pakistan in May 2018. Ireland played their first ‘touring’ Test in India in March 2019 against fellow newcomers Afghanistan, where they lost by 7 wickets. This was followed by a four-day Test match against England at Lord’s in July 2019. According to the ICC Future Tours Programme for 2019–23, Ireland are scheduled to play sixteen Tests, but along with Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, are not included in the first two editions of the ICC World Test Championship.
Phoenix Cricket Club is the oldest in Ireland and believed to be one of the oldest in the world having been founded in 1830. Prior to 1834 the Club members met and practiced in the Phoenix Park but in 1835 the Club moved out of the Park and played its matches in open fields south of the Canal behind Upper Baggot Street. In 1838 the Commissioner of Woods and Forests granted permission for a 150 yards square near the Wellington monument. At that time a temporary rail had to be erected as several players were injured as the ground had been cut up by wandering animals. Permanent rails were subsequently erected of an agreed thickness and painted white so as to be clearly visible to horsemen.
In 1846 when Chesterfield Avenue, the main road through the Park was widened the Club had to move again. A new ground in an adjacent area was recommended and in view of the expense already incurred by the Club the move was financed by the Board of Works at a cost of £73 and Phoenix have remained at the present ground ever since.
The decades, 1950 – 1970 were without the glory of the previous years due to an aging team. Despite 2 cups in the 1950s, the next decade was without a major trophy during the whole of that decade. In the later 1960s a younger squad started to emerge and, after 22 years, Phoenix won the John Player Senior cup in 1973; and in 1974 the club were the inaugural winners of the Wiggins Teape League. In 1975, Phoenix accomplished the Grand Slam (all three trophies and the only club to ever do it). During the entire decade the 1st XI relied on a hard core of 15 players to lift 6 cups, 3 league titles and 2 Wiggins Teape.
Phoenix Cricket Club continues to promote the game of cricket and provides competition and enjoyment for its members and visiting teams as well as providing free sport viewing for the locals and tourists in the wonderful Phoenix Park.
In the early 1860s The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, decided that public service employees needed some quality rest and recreation so he pushed a Bill through Parliament, granting Civil Servants a cricket ground in Phoenix Park, right beside the Dog Pond, where the Civil Service Cricket Club play to this day.