John ‘E.B.’ Dwyer has a couple of things that make him unique among the hundreds of cricketers who have represented Sussex over the last 175 years.
Not only was he surely the only cricketer descended from an Irish chieftain to play for the county, but with seven initials, John Elicihs Benedict Bernard Placid Quirk Carrington Dwyer can claim to have the longest name in Sussex’s history.
He was, in fact, Australian and played his early cricket in Sydney. At the suggestion of MCC grandee Pelham Warner he came to England in 1904 and was spotted by Sussex captain CB Fry in the nets at Lord’s. He persuaded Dwyer to play for him and after making his debut in 1906 he had three seasons with the county.
He was a scorer’s nightmare but not a bad bowler, capable of destroying the opposition on his day. In his debut season he took nine for 35 against Derbyshire and nine for 44 against Middlesex and is one of only 14 Sussex bowlers to have taken nine wickets in an innings and one of only three to have done so twice.
A year later he took six wickets against South Africa and, according to Wisden, “he had a great deal to do with the Colonials being dismissed for 49, their smallest total during their tour.”
As for the Irish ancestry, his great-grandfather Michael Dwyer was the Wicklow chieftain and one of the leaders of the Irish insurrection in 1798. Avoiding capture for five years in the Wicklow mountains, he was eventually exiled to Australia in 1804. Perhaps it was during those long days in hiding that he thought it might be fun if one day a descendant of his had seven initials.
News that their team had bowled out Warwickshire for 87 earlier this week would have pleased Sussex supporters, more so that it took place at Edgbaston where the county hadn’t won since 1982 when they dismissed the Bears for 43.
The tables have sometimes been turned in games against Warwickshire and 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of a remarkable three-day Championship game between the two that took place at the Manor Sports Ground in Worthing.
Remarkable mainly for the performance of Ian Thomson, one of the finest seam bowlers Sussex produced. In Warwickshire’s first innings he took all TEN wickets, only the second time that had happened in the county’s history and first occasion since 1899.
He remembers the day vividly. “You need a surface which responds and a bit of luck as well. The top surface came off early and the ball was going off the wicket at all sorts of odd angles. I remember getting to eight wickets and thinking all ten was on. John Snow was bowling at the other end and I was a bit slower than him. He bowled a bit too short to take advantage of what was on offer.”
Thomson finished with match figures of 15 for 75. It ought to have been enough to help Sussex to victory but their second innings was arguably one of the lowest points in the county’s history.
In 55 minutes they were bowled out for just 23 to lose by 182 runs. Such low totals aren’t as rare as you might think. They have been dismissed for 23 on four occasions and were bowled out for just 19 back in 1873 by Nottinghamshire.
Eight wickets in the next match against Nottinghamshire gave Thomson 23 in a week at Worthing, conceded at just six runs each. In their first innings Notts lost their last seven wickets for just eight runs.
Great entertainment of course, but not good for the county coffers when the game was over in two days. Sussex have not been back to Worthing for a county game since.