|Full name||Thomas Patrick Horan|
8 March 1854|
Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
16 April 1916 (aged 62)|
Malvern, Victoria, Australia
|Nickname||Felix (pen name)|
|Relations||James Francis Horan (son), Thomas Ignatius Bernard Horan (son)|
|Test debut (cap 8)||15 March 1877 v England|
|Last Test||21 March 1885 v England|
|Domestic team information|
Source: Cricket Archive, 26 February 2008
Thomas Patrick Horan (8 March 1854 — 16 April 1916) was an Australian cricketer who played for Victoria and Australia, and later became an esteemed cricket journalist under the pen name "Felix". The first of only two players born in Ireland to play Test cricket for Australia, Horan was the leading batsman in the colony of Victoria during the pioneering years of international cricket. He played for Australia in the game against England subsequently designated as the first Test match, before touring England with the first representative Australian team, in 1878. Four years later, he toured England for the second time and played in the famed Ashes Test match at The Oval.
An aggressive middle-order batsman renowned for his leg-side play, Horan supplemented his batting by bowling medium-pace in the roundarm style common to his era, and once captured six wickets in a Test match innings. During a season disrupted by financial disputes and a strike by leading players, he captained Australia in two Test matches of the 1884–85 Ashes series, but lost both games. Horan’s form peaked between the ages of 26 and 29 when he scored seven of his eight first-class centuries, including a score of 124 in a Test match on his home ground at Melbourne in January 1882.
In 1879, Horan began writing a weekly newspaper column that continued until his death 37 years later. He established himself as the first Australian cricket writer who had played the game at the highest level, thus paving the way for many players to enter the media. Bill O'Reilly, the noted Australian player-writer of the twentieth century, described him as, "the cricket writer par excellence". Horan's documentation of the early years of Australian cricket are the basis for many works on the subject: Gideon Haigh wrote that any, "serious scholar in the field ... should probably acquaint himself with Tom Horan." An anthology of his articles was published for the first time in 1989 when he was posthumously inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame for his writing. In part, his citation read, "... it was as the first nationally known cricket writer that he made his major contribution to the game."
Born in the town of Midleton near the Irish city of Cork, Horan emigrated to Australia with his parents and siblings as a small child. In Melbourne, he attended Bell Street School in Fitzroy and formed a friendship with Jack Blackham; Blackham encouraged in Horan a love of cricket. Horan made his first-class debut for Victoria in the season of 1874/75.
1st Test 1876–77
At age 23, Tom Horan was selected to play in the first Test between Australia and England in March 1877. Australia won the toss and elected to bat. After the fall of the first wicket, that of Nat Thomson, Horan made his way to the wicket. At 23 years 7 days old he was the youngest Test Cricketer at that time. He passed George Ulyett, the England No: 4, who was 2 years 138 days older than Tom Horan. When Jack Blackham, the Australia No: 8 Batsman, came out to bat Tom Horan dropped to 2nd youngest as Jack Blackham was 64 days younger. With Charles Bannerman (who would eventually retire hurt on 165), Horan put on 38 runs for the second wicket before he was dismissed for 12. In the second innings, the young batsman made twenty, the highest score in Australia's 104 all out. Australia won the historic match by 45 runs.
Later Test career
Although he was not selected to play in Second Test of the inaugural Test series, Horan did enjoy a regular place in the Australian Test team into the mid-1880s. His highest Test score of 124 was made in the First Test of the 1881/82 season against England. Horan toured England twice, in 1878 and 1882, but played only one Test in that country, at the Oval in 1882.
In 1884, the Australian Test team – minus Horan – demanded a significant pay rise. When organisers refused the request, the team went on strike. With the Second Test against England due to start in Melbourne, selectors were forced to choose an entirely new team. Horan was selected as captain. His team consisted on nine debutants (five of whom never played Tests again). Australia lost the Test by 10 wickets. In the following Test, Horan, having been stripped of his captaincy duties, made a significant impact with the ball, returning figures of 6/40 from 37.1 four-ball overs in England's first innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Horan played his final Test on 21 March 1885. He scored a duck in the first innings and made 20 in the second before being bowled by William Attewell, and bowled three wicketless overs for five runs as England took an innings victory.
He turned his attention to journalism, writing a regular cricket column for The Australasian, a weekly published by Melbourne's Argus newspaper. Haigh writes that Horan "was not an adventurous stylist: he wrote, instead, with his ears and eyes, with a sense of the telling remark and the evocative detail." He never attached his own name to his writings, preferring to use the pseudonym "Felix". Horan continued contributing to The Australasian until his death in 1916.
In 1879, Horan married Kate Pennefather, the daughter of a Melbourne police officer. They had nine children. Two of Horan's sons played first-class cricket for Victoria in the early 1900s.
- Haigh, Gideon (11 April 2006). "Tom Horan – Cricket writer par excellence". CricInfo. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- "Thomas Horan – Media". Hall of Fame. Sports Australia. 5 December 1989. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- "England in Australia Test Series – 1st Test Australia v England". Cricket Archive. 19 March 1877. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- "Statistics / Statsguru / TP Horan / Test matches". CricInfo. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- "The Ashes – 3rd Test Australia v England". CricInfo. 24 February 1885. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- "The Ashes – 5th Test Australia v England". CricInfo. 25 March 1885. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- Haigh, Gideon (2006). Silent Revolutions: Writings on Cricket History. Black Inc. ISBN 1-86395-310-8.
- Horan, Thomas (1989). Cradle days of Australian cricket: an anthology of the writings of Felix. Macmillan Australia. ISBN 0-333-50129-2.
- Mangan, J. A. (2000). Sport in Australasian society: past and present. Volume 18 of Sport in the global society. John Nauright. Routledge. ISBN 0-7146-5060-9.
- Perry, Roland (2000). Captain Australia: a history of the celebrated captains of Australian Test cricket. Random House Australia. ISBN 1-74051-001-1.
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