Once Upon a Time
Cricket had to be played in Christchurch.
The settlement of Christchurch in the mid nineteenth century mirrored England and so cricket became a natural fit for this area. It was announced in the “Lyttelton Times” that the first match would be played on 4 October 1851. Poor weather forced a postponement (a portent of things to come!). This Christchurch Cricket club finally played in that area in Hagley Park affectionately known now as “Nancy’s Corner” at the junction of Riccarton Road, Riccarton Avenue and Deans Avenue; at that time it was known as Dilloways. There were only sporadic matches played after this and two years on saw the club move to a new ground in the Avonside area. The Albion club was formed in 1858 and played at Latimer Square, and Avonside, Lincoln Road and Rangiora clubs were soon to form.
In 1860 the Christchurch Club was granted a lease in Hagley Park with the provision that it change its name to Canterbury. The first major match was between a Canterbury 22 and the All-England Eleven was played in February 1864, and two weeks later Canterbury played Otago in Dunedin for the first time. Reciprocal matches followed but the first match on Hagley Oval between these two provinces took place in 1867. In 1873 Canterbury hosted Auckland for the first time, again at Hagley Oval. The pavilion at Dilloways (Nancy’s Corner) was moved to its present position on Hagley Oval in 1869 and has provided a haven for several clubs over the years and now as the Canterbury Umpires’ pavilion.
What of the roots of Suburban cricket?
Not all cricketers in Christchurch could be catered for as many would work on Saturdays and often wished to play with their workmates. This probably led to the formation of the “Thursday Association” which provided a series of mid-week matches. By 1898 this was in full cry although these matches were played randomly and with no attachment to any association. So, in 1905 a new association was formed to be known as the Christchurch City and Suburban Cricket Association with eight clubs affiliated to it; of these founding clubs, Sumner still exists today.
Cricket continued to thrive with some secondary schools having an impact. Playing numbers would grow and wane and the impact of two world wars was noticeable. Women’s cricket was to begin in 1931and in the last 60 years we have seen the emergence of the Junior Advisory Board (CJCA) to provide cricket for primary school children.
From 2006 there were six years of close consultation between Canterbury Cricket and Christchurch Suburban Cricket; the latter dissolved itself after a Special General Meeting on 9 August 2012, and a new association emerged to oversee all cricket in Christchurch. Canterbury Cricket would have a new addition in its paternal watch over its five Districts (Buller, West Coast, Canterbury Country, Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury).
And so from August 1, 2012, the Christchurch Metropolitan Cricket Association is born.
R T Brittenden – 100 Years of Cricket; a history of the Canterbury Cricket Association 1877- 1977; Papanui Press
W E Skilton – A Century of Cricket 1905-2005; Caxton Press