Thomas Patrick Horan, Australian cricketer who plays for Victoria and Australia, and later becomes an esteemed cricket journalist under the pen name “Felix,” is born on March 8, 1854, in Midleton, County Cork.
Horan emigrates to Australia with his parents and siblings as a small child. In Melbourne, he attends Bell Street School in Fitzroy and forms a friendship with Jack Blackham. Blackham encourages in Horan a love of cricket. Horan makes his first-class debut for Victoria in the 1874-1875 season.
The first of only two players born in Ireland to play Test cricket for Australia, Horan is the leading batsman in the colony of Victoria during the pioneering years of international cricket. He plays 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 tours England for the second time and plays in the famed Ashes Test match at The Oval.
An aggressive middle-order batsman renowned for his leg side play, Horan supplements his batting by bowling medium-pace in the roundarm style common to his era, and once captures six wickets in a Test match innings. During a season disrupted by financial disputes and a strike by leading players, he captains Australia in two Test matches of the 1884–85 Ashes series, but loses both games. Horan’s form peaks between the ages of 26 and 29 when he scores seven of his eight first-class centuries, including a score of 124 in a Test match on his home ground at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in January 1882.
In 1879, Horan begins writing a weekly newspaper column that continues until his death 37 years later. He establishes himself as the first Australian cricket writer who has 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, describes 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 writes that any, “serious scholar in the field…should probably acquaint himself with Tom Horan.” An anthology of his articles is published for the first time in 1989 when he is posthumously inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame for his writing. In part, his citation reads, “…it was as the first nationally known cricket writer that he made his major contribution to the game.”
Thomas Patrick Horan dies on April 16, 1916, in Malvern, Victoria, Australia.