Gerry Duffy – one of the greats of Irish cricket
“In an international career which spanned 22 years, 1953-74, he was capped 55 times for Ireland, scoring 1,123 runs and taking 82 wickets and 39 catches. “ Photograph: Victor Patterson
Gerard (Gerry) Andrew Anthony Duffy, who passed away on June 15th in his 85th year, after a short illness, was one of the truly great characters of Irish cricket.
In an international career which spanned 22 years, 1953-74, he was capped 55 times for Ireland, scoring 1,123 runs and taking 82 wickets and 39 catches, most of them in the gully, where he excelled.
In 1969 he played on the Irish team which recorded that famous nine-wicket victory over the West Indies at Sion Mills, snapping up catches in the gully off Alec O’Riordan (4-18) and Dougie Goodwin (5-6) who ran amuck that day as the visitors were dismissed for 25 runs.
An all-rounder, his best bowling performance was in 1961 when, against a star-studded Australian team coming straight from a Test series victory over England, he took six wickets for 29 at Ormeau, Belfast.
A modest man, he was a reluctant international bowler who consistently underestimated his own abilities. He came on when Australia were cruising at 148 for three wickets and claimed six of the next seven wickets in a 13 over spell, as Australia collapsed to 209 all out. Amongst his victims were Norman O’Neill, one of the world’s outstanding batsmen of that time, and Richie Benaud, the Australian captain, who wrote a memorable tribute to Duffy for his surprise 80th birthday party.
Duffy bamboozled batsmen with his distinctive form of loopy in-duckers which arched enticingly before dying just short of the perfect driving length.
His highest International score was 92 against the MCC in 1970.
He batted mostly in the mid-order or further down the list and frequently held the tail together in rearguard fight-backs, as against India at Clontarf in 1967. Duffy came in at 55 for 5 and, with Ray Hunter, put on 96 for the seventh wicket to enable a declaration, ending up unbeaten on 52 against the formidable Indian spin attack of Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Venkstraghavan.
He was a batsman who treasured his wicket and had the amazing record of being not out in one in four of his 405 knocks for his club, Leinster CC. In a domestic career spanning 43 years from 1948-1990, he scored over 10,000 runs, took 944 wickets and held an amazing 238 catches, mostly in the gully. He hit nine centuries, including a magnificent 200 not out against Phoenix, the arch-rivals of Leinster CC, and enjoyed a wonderful innings against his great adversary Jimmy Boucher, giving only one chance on 196.
Duffy retired from Senior 1 League cricket in the mid 1980s but continued playing on the Second XI. However he made a return to help out in 1990 when LCC found themselves short of bowlers for a Senior league game. In his 60th year, he bowled unchanged for 20 overs and recorded the amazing figures of four for 70. He was never one to let the side down!
He played table tennis to interpro standards, was a superb snooker player, and a keen tennis player; he played full-back for years on St Mary’s RFC Moran Cup teams, soccer for LCC and even managed to pick up a Dublin Insurances GAA football medal – truly a multi-talented sportsman.
He was also a great supporter of the Dubs – and Shamrock Rovers – and counted among his close friends Jimmy Keaveney, John Drumgoole and Mick Leach, with whom he travelled to his beloved Listowel Races for over 50 years.
Gerry is survived by his elder brother Patrick (Robbie), nephew Robert, and grandnephews Conor and Robert.