Where the game was played by decent chaps: The making of New Zealand cricket 1832-1914
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This thesis examines aspects of the relationship between cricket and New Zealand society from 1840 to approximately 1914. It proceeds from the premise that cricket, as the most significant component of the English leisure revolution of the nineteenth century, was encouraged in New Zealand as an important means of replicating English social customs and ideals. The first section of the thesis examines the development of cricket in the four main provincial centres and in Nelson prior to 1870. These chapters reveal clear links between different colonisation patterns and the quite distinct cricketing traditions which emerged in each centre. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of cricket within the ideals of "systematic colonisation" promoted by Edward Gibbon Wakefield - and especially as they relate to the primacy of Canterbury cricket within the New Zealand game. Section " examines selected themes in the expansion and formalisation of New Zealand cricket between 1870 and 1914. Above all it addresses the process by which the upper echelon of New Zealand cricket became dominated by middleclass, white-collar professionals. Implicit is an account of the impediments to blue-collar participation and the conflicts which emerged between the various class groups competing for scarce cricketing resources. This section also identifies bureaucratic, demographic and geographic obstacles which inhibited the expansion and standard of New Zealand cricket - and particularly its representative teams. Section III is primarily concerned with international contacts by New Zealand cricket teams. It stresses both the close relationship between cricket and notions of imperial and inter-colonial unity, and the implications for a sense of colonial or national identity which arose from the consistent failure of New Zealand teams against international opposition. Ultimately, it can be concluded that although New Zealand embraced Victorian cricket ideals more thoroughly than many other parts of the British Empire, the standard and significance of the game was retarded by factors intrinsic to the social structure of New Zealand as a whole.