In Praise of the Scrapbook

There was a time when a scrapbook was part and parcel of a sports’ fan’s everyday life. In a time before the internet and TV there was just the radio and newspapers. All over the world, people would listen to live match commentaries hissing through the ether from the other side of the globe and, for the next day or two afterwards, would eagerly read newspapers seeking confirmation and elaboration about what they had heard. Inevitably many of them would cut out those reports and carefully glue them in a scrapbook (how many school exercise books served this useful purpose!) and from them create their own lists of statistics, thoughts and memories.

J Hunt's 1948 Scrap Book - NZ Cricket Museum collection

J Hunt’s 1948 Scrap Book – NZ Cricket Museum collection

Of course, now it is very different. We have countless websites that connect us immediately, and in remarkable detail, with the world of cricket. We can stream games, search statistics and read opinions in a flash. We can tweet more information in a day than we would pick up in six months (and only then after hard searching) thirty or forty years ago. For better or worse, it was different then and the New Zealand Cricket Museum has boxes of scrapbooks that confirm this. Some of them were compiled by the players themselves, documenting their tours to far-off lands or cataloguing a particular domestic season. Others were compiled by fans of the game, and it’s one of those we’ve chosen to write about.

In 1948 the Australians sent a formidable team to tour England. In fact, they played the entire tour without losing a single game: 34 matches played, 25 won and 9 drawn. They won 4 Test matches and drew the other one. This remarkable feat was achieved over a relentless schedule that saw them playing cricket on 112 days of a 144-day tour. The team has became known to history as “The Invincibles” and, somewhere in New Zealand, a young “J. Hunt” was avidly following the team’s progress.

The first page of the old school exercise book they used to document the tour had the tour itinerary written out in copperplate handwriting. The key points of each county game the Australians played are written, page-by-page, in chronological order in the same elegant style. Occasionally, there is a picture or a written report from a newspaper (hard to say which one, although the paper meticulously prints the time each report arrived in the country) which carried the New Zealand Press Association reports of the matches.

The Tests are recorded much more extensively with newspaper reports pasted in and full scorecards written out. There is that wonderful picture of Donald Bradman, at the Oval, being bowled second ball by the googly of Hollies for a duck. It was Bradman’s last Test innings ever and left him only four runs short of a completing his career with a Test match average of 100. Finally, at the end of the book, there is a hand drawn map of Great Britain where each county that Australia played is carefully drawn in and identified.Bradman Page

This is probably just one scrapbook of hundreds that was painstakingly compiled covering the same tour. When you touch it, smell the old, fading newsprint and look at the beautiful handwriting you are aware of the time and effort that went into it – the creator must have spent many, many hours bringing it to life. There is also a palpable sense of what we can best describe as ownership. The tour of “The Invincibles” is more than a magical period in the history of the game: it has become part of the life of scrapbook creator. They shaped the tour into forms and patterns of information they wanted to remember and savour. They have written out and detailed the aspects of the tour that were important to them; it now belongs to them and we know that another person’s scrapbook about the same tour could be a very different creation.

Scrapbooks help remind us that cricket is more than the actions of thirteen players on a green field. It’s something in the emotions and thoughts of all those individuals who watch and experience its possibilities. Cricket exists beyond the immediacy of any game and lives on in the minds of people and scrapbooks like this one and the thousands of others that sit in attics, drawers and museums. The game, and all its marvelous layers and interpretations, is kept alive as a result.

Maybe this ‘scrapbooker’ still comes to the cricket and, sitting in the sun, remembers those long ago winter mornings when they grabbed the paper for the latest news. We’d like to think so. Perhaps cricket lost them and they went in another direction. We will probably never know. Either way, we are glad of what they created and how it shows us what it means to be a cricket fan, today or generations ago.

^BP

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas of Timaru

Charles Thomas appears to have loved sport, playing cricket for South Canterbury but making his mark as an administrator in the early years of the twentieth century. From 1904 to 1908, he was President of the South Canterbury Cricket Association, a role he combined with the presidency of the New Zealand Cricket Council in 1906. Following his term as NZCC President, he remained involved with the organisation, serving as Vice-President in 1908. On his appointment as NZCC President he expressed his pleasure that someone from the South Canterbury region had been chosen for the post. In 1911, he broadened his service, becoming Chairman of the New Zealand Amateur Athletic Association. All of these duties were carried out while he continued to ply his trade as doctor and surgeon, including the post of Port Health Officer in Timaru.

Captain Thomas as he featured in the 1903 Cyclopaedia of NZ. - The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d3-d17-d9.html
Captain Thomas as he featured in the 1903 Cyclopaedia of NZ.
- The New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d3-d17-d9.html

However, Thomas cannot be cast as simply a desk-bound administrator. He was no stranger to war, having served as surgeon in the Boer conflict in South Africa and, on the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, he immediately joined the Medical Corps of the Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance. Thomas was 48 years old at the time. He embarked for Suez in October 1914 and from Suez he would be posted to Gallipoli. There is a lovely extract from his diary describing a break on that fateful journey to Anzac Cove:

May 29th 1915. H.M. Transport “Iverine”. Had an easy time on Lemnos Island for five days. Beautiful sea bathing. Played cricket for my unit against the Australians. The Australians won easily. I made 27, second highest score on our side.

Thomas landed at Gallipoli sometime in early August 1915. On the 28th of August he was involved in the fight for what was known as Hill 60. Leading stretcher parties that were attempting to pick up casualties he was killed instantly by the blast from a shell. He was buried in Embarkation Pier Cemetery, Turkey. Obituaries of Thomas praised his bravery and stressed his public service.

Charles Ernest Thomas; b. January 31st 1864, Bangalore, India, d. August 28th 1915, near Hill 60, Gallipoli.

^BP

The Maorilanders

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, New Zealand cricket sides embarked on many significant tours that enhanced the reputation of the nation, both as cricketers and as people. While some of these tours feature prominently in the records and histories of New Zealand cricket, there is one that has almost universally been forgotten. In 1935, 13 young up-and-coming New Zealand cricketers embarked on a tour of Fiji under the name the Maorilanders.

By 1935 the term ‘Maorilanders’ was almost a forgotten one in New Zealand, and rightly so. In the latter years of the 1880s and early 1900s it was a common name for New Zealand sporting teams, and for New Zealanders in general. The 1905 re-naming of the national rugby team to the All Blacks, and the prominence of the kiwi on WW1 uniforms, largely signalled a move away from names like Maorilanders, Fernlanders and En Zedders. In that sense, the 1935 Maorilanders were amongst the last of a generation.

The tour was the brainchild of Ernest Beale, an Aucklander with a strong reputation for organising colts’ teams and tours. Beale gained the sanction of the New Zealand Cricket Council and approval from the Auckland Cricket authorities (where most of the players were based) to ensure that there was no conflict for players. It also meant that the side was an official New Zealand side, yet the youth of the players, the perceived standard of the opposition and the poor quality of pitches and outfields have seen it ignored in official records.

With an average age of just 22, the Maorilanders arrival at Fiji on December 19 1935 would’ve been the first journey overseas for many of their members. There were ten matches scheduled to be played before their departure in mid-January, giving the team members some spare time to enjoy the local hospitality, beaches, sun and Fijian customs. Bruce Massey, the team captain and one of just four players who featured in First Class cricket, reported back that Sutherland could play the ukulele and Riley was a good singer which meant the team “could fare all right when the occasion arose”. It was also noted that two of the team “knew the haka”.

The tour opened with a match against the Suva 2nd XI, where Ted Dunning immediately adapted to the conditions, hitting 135 before retiring. While the New Zealanders acquitted themselves well in most games, they constantly struggled with the pitches which were often woven matting over concrete. The outfields also made run-scoring difficult – one was described as having “grass, six inches” long, no doubt due to the almost six months of constant rain that preceded the tour. In spite of the conditions, the two-‘Test’ series was shared 1-1.

The Maoriland & Fiji cricket teams pose together following the second 'Test' in 1936.  - From PA Snow's Cricket In The Fiji Islands

The Maoriland & Fiji cricket teams pose together following the second ‘Test’ in 1936.
– From PA Snow’s Cricket In The Fiji Islands

When the side returned to New Zealand after a month in the Fiji sun, they were described as “bronzed and cheerful” but their time as a team was not over. In recognition of the team’s positive role in strengthening ties between the two nations, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce got together with Auckland Cricket and arranged a game against a colts’ side for January 21 and 22. The most notable aspect of that game was the performance of a young colt name Merv Wallace who smashed 169*.

Maorilanders team 1935-36: EC Beale (manager), HB Massey (captain), DL Martin, MJ Hewitt, JR Norris, EN Vipond, EJ Dunning, L Wyatt, KL Sandford, E Sutherland, LE Riley, CV Walter, HN Windle, EC Andrews

Second Lieutenant Howe of Wellington

‘Gillie’ Howe represented Wellington in 1912 and 1914, playing five First Class and two ‘miscellaneous’ games for them. Two of his matches for Wellington were against the formidable 1914 Australian team, both at the Basin Reserve. He opened the batting in the first game, scoring 19 and 4 respectively. In the second innings he was dismissed by Warwick Armstrong, who took a remarkable 7 for 17 in a game that the tourists won by seven wickets. Howe would want to forget the second game where, in his only innings, he was dismissed for a duck in a drawn match. He finished the season for Wellington with an average of 15.44. As a wicketkeeper, Howe also claimed five catches and four stumpings. He was only 22 and, in those early months of 1914, appeared to be a young cricketer of great promise with a fine future in front of him.

Howe had played local cricket for The Rivals, Wellington East and, finally, for University. He has been described as a batsman who could score “pretty fast” once he had his eye in. But it was as a wicket keeper that he shone, possessing skills that suggested he may well have developed into something out of the ordinary. He “stood up well to the wicket” and was an agile catcher with soft hands and fast reflexes. What also remained in the minds of his acquaintances was Gillie’s friendliness to everyone coupled with his cheerful disposition.

Howe joined the War effort early. He was part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force that took German Samoa in 1914 as a sergeant in the Field Artillery and embarked with them on August 15th of that year. On his return he discharged himself but, in 1916, he re-joined the New Zealand Field Artillery. Like many others, he trained at Trentham Camp (playing for their cricket team) and was commissioned there as a Second Lieutenant. He traveled to England, where he was at Sling Camp for a short time, and arrived at the front line on November 21st 1916. He was killed in action near Messines, France on January 10th 1917. Howe’s death was mentioned in Wisden, where he was described as a “left hand bat and a good wicket keeper”, providing further evidence of the promise he would never fulfill.

The Gilbert Howe memorial trophy, gifted by his mother, was awarded annually to the most improved cricket player in Wellington for more than twenty years after his death.

The Gilbert Howe Trophy, won in 1938-39 by Bill Rainbird.

The Gilbert Howe Trophy, won in 1938-39 by Bill Rainbird.

Gilbert Howe; b. August 6th 1891, Wellington, d. January 10th 1917, near Messines, France.

^BP

White Ferns & the Empire

On the 21st of January 1938, the largest group of New Zealand athletes to ever travel overseas assembled at Wellington’s Queen’s Wharf. In the harbour, the steamer Wanganella was being loaded in preparation for the 8pm sailing to Sydney. Australia was in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary and, in just a few days, the Empire Games would begin in Sydney. On Queen’s Wharf, athletic champions stood alongside the Governor General, cyclists and rowers compared training notes, and the women of the New Zealand cricket side prepared for their very first overseas tour. The significance of the occasion made this perhaps the most celebrated cricket team to leave New Zealand. The morning of departure saw the team enjoy morning tea hosted by Prime Minister Savage, followed by a civic farewell at Wellington’s town hall.

The 1938 White Ferns squad that toured to Sydney. L-R; I Johns, J Holmes, P Taylor, P Blackler, M Hollis, M Corby; Seated; B Ingram, I Pickering (C), D Simons (M), R Martin (VC), J Fowler; Front; D Hatcher, M Thomas.

The 1938 White Ferns squad that toured to Sydney.
L-R; I Johns, M Holmes, M Taylor, P Blackler, M Hollis, M Corby;
Seated; E Ingram, I Pickering (C), D Simons (M), R Martin (VC), J Fowler;
Front; D Hatcher, M Thomas.

The 13 members of that White Ferns side were bound for Sydney for a five match tour, highlighted by a 3-day match against New South Wales. Three years had passed since the White Ferns had made their Test debut, and it would be a further ten years before they played Test cricket again, making this tour vital to the continued development of the game. The importance of development was exemplified by the age of the team which included 15-year-old Ida Johns and 25-year-old manager Dot Simons. The team’s oldest members were just 26, although four players had featured against England in 1935, giving the team some much-needed experience.

The first match the tourists played was on board the Wanganella against members of the Empire Games’ team. After a couple of days of rough seas that left even the wrestling team absent at dinner, the cricketers “cleaned up” their shipboard opposition. The weather on the voyage across the Tasman would prove a sample of things to come as the team’s first few games in Sydney coincided with torrential rain. This resulted in the match against NSW Juniors abandoned with New Zealand in good shape for victory, while the marquee 3-day game against NSW became a 1-day game which New Zealand narrowly lost on the first innings. A further narrow loss to South Metropolitan was evened out by comfortable victories against North Metropolitan and Combined Country.

As with the New Zealanders side that toured England in 1927, the performances of this New Zealand team served to reinforce New Zealand’s growing skills on the cricket field. In fact, reports from the tour indicated that the Australians had expressed a serious interest in bringing their national team for a tour and Test matches against the White Ferns. Unfortunately, war would intervene and Australia would not visit until 1948 when their tour began against unusual opposition: Matamata.

Rifleman Bryden of Dunedin

Of Scottish descent, Thomas James Bryden (“Jim”) played two Plunket Shield matches for Otago. The first, against Canterbury at Lancaster Park in March 1913, saw him score 15 in the first innings and 14 in the second in a match that Canterbury won by an innings and 51 runs. His second appearance was less successful with a duck in both innings against the same team, this time at Dunedin in February 1914 where he was an early substitute for the injured captain of the Otago XI. The very strong Canterbury team won again, this time by an innings and 32 runs.

Described as a “vigorous type of batsman who went for the bowling as soon as he got his eye in”, Bryden was 35 when he made his first appearance for Otago. Although his two appearances for Otago were unremarkable, he had been, and continued to be, a fine club cricketer, first for the Grange and then for the Dunedin Cricket Clubs. In the 1913-14 season he had the second highest batting average for Dunedin at 20.40. He was also a decent, occasional bowler who had the second best bowling stats over the 1912-1913 season for Dunedin with an average of 11.00 runs per wicket. He was also a handy fielder by all accounts.

There was something else, though. He was often the elder player in the team and he was remembered as being “always willing to help a younger cricketer”. He appears to have been the type of older player who loved the game, loved talking about it and loved helping a new generation find the same enjoyment and pleasure from it he had.

Bryden was 39 when he enlisted on January 17th 1917 – he was still playing for Dunedin earlier that month. He went first to Sling Camp in the United Kingdom before arriving on the front line near Passchendaele on September 18th 1917. He had been promoted to Corporal but, at his own request, Bryden returned to the ranks.

”Jim” Bryden was killed on the morning of October 12th 1917 in the attack on Passchendaele. It was a morning when New Zealand troops suffered the highest casualties of any single day during World War One. Bryden, like so many others on that awful day, was initially listed as missing in action but his body was never found. His name is inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing.

Thomas James Bryden; b. June 1st 1877, Invercargill, d. October 12th 1917 Passchendaele, Belgium.

^BP

A Forgotten Legacy

There are several notable dates in the early history of New Zealand cricket, from the country’s first interprovincial match in 1860, to our first Test match in 1930. Amongst all the others there is one date that is, almost always, overlooked: March 26 1910. On this day, Easter Saturday, at Christchurch’s Hagley Park, Canterbury met Wellington in New Zealand’s first women’s interprovincial match.

Like many other Commonwealth countries, women playing cricket was not a new phenomenon in New Zealand in 1910. Records of the game, here and overseas, have included references to men and women playing the game from about the same point in history. The earliest games, involving both men and women, tended to be played as fundraisers, exhibitions or between “married” and “single” teams. However, men’s sides organised themselves into clubs and representive teams as soon as interest grew, for women it simply took longer for that interest to reach critical mass. As such, organised women’s cricket was a relatively new development in 1910. Reports from 1909 indicate that Wellington and Dunedin each had three women’s cricket clubs, while Auckland’s first club was established that year. The strength of women’s cricket in Canterbury isn’t noted but, given their overall strength in the game, it’s likely that they were at the forefront.CAN v. WGTN 1910

This is emphasised by the result of the game played at Easter 1910: Canterbury won by over 230 runs. Details of the match are a little sketchy – different reports feature different scores – but there were some exceptional performances; including Miss A. Scott’s 61, Miss I. Scott’s 56, Miss Mahoney’s 4 for 65, and Miss I. Curlett’s 4 for 11. Curlett’s figures are worth noting as she was the only Canterbury bowler to take a wicket in spite of Wellington making just 41; the other six batters were run out.

Although this match is recognised as New Zealand’s first interprovincial women’s match, very little detail is known about it. Some reports indicate that the teams selected to represent their provinces were essentially drawn from two clubs: Opawa in Christchurch and Wellington North in the capital. In spite of this, there are players in both teams whose names appear for other clubs in their regions. The scorecards refer to the players only by their initials and not a single player’s first name is noted. When the return match was played a year later at Kelburn Park in Wellington, only Canterbury’s Ida Collins was named in full.

We think it’s important to fill in the blanks from this game and the players involved so we can further celebrate their pioneering role in New Zealand Cricket. If you know anything about the game or the players involved, please drop us an email at cricket@wmt.org.nz.

We’ll keep you updated with what we find.

Second Lieutenant Kinvig of Wellington

James Gordon Kinvig (known as “JG”, “Kinny” or simply “Gordon”) was the epitome of the amateur sportsman in the early 1900s. A fine rugby player, he played for Oriental Rugby Club and represented Wellington on numerous occasions as a five eighth or utility back. Kinvig was also a very good cricketer whose name featured extensively in school and club match reports. His dual skills gave him the unique honour of being selected to make his Wellington representative debuts in both rugby and cricket during the same year.

In spite of this talent, Kinvig only represented Wellington twice at cricket. His first appearance was in February 1910 at the Basin Reserve against the touring Australian team. He took a creditable 3-36 in the first innings and 0-30 in the second in a match that the Australians won by six wickets. His second appearance, against Hawkes Bay at Napier in March 1910, was less assured. He only bowled one over, still managing to grab one wicket. However his batting was rather wobbly – a duck in the first and 15 in the second innings of a drawn game. There’s more to this man than these bare statistics however.

Kinvig (middle-left) in an unusual scene constructed for Freelance in 1910. http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&cl=search&d=NZFL19101015.2.39.1&srpos=7&e=-------10--1----0

Kinvig (middle-left) in an unusual scene constructed for Freelance in 1910. http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZFL19101015.1.19

Educated at Christchurch Boys High School, his cricketing performances there led to him being labelled “one of the best all rounders” at the school. After his schooling, he eventually moved to Wellington (his father appears to have owned factories in the city) and began to establish himself as a powerful presence on the local sports’ scene. He played for a number of cricket clubs (Wellington East, Central, Rivals, Trentham Army Camp), as well as in a variety of one-off games for all sorts of teams.

Although he was described as an all-rounder, his left arm, medium pace bowling often stands out in the match reports. Playing for Rivals against Union in April 1913 he had match figures of 8 for 67. In January 1915 he took 4 for 19 playing for Trentham against Petone and so on and so on. He appeared to be playing everywhere and whenever he played his bowling or batting gains a mention. He seems to have been no mean fielder as well. We don’t know why he never again made the cut for Wellington but his performance at club level is noteworthy and, at times, decidedly impressive.

His service in the Army was as striking as his sporting career. He enlisted in the Wellington Regiment in September 1915 and embarked, initially, for Suez, on the 1st May 1916. Kinvig had been a sergeant in the Territorials but, after service in France and officer training in England, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Wellington Second Battalion. He served some time in the trenches but early in the morning of July 31st, 1917 was killed in the attack on La Basse Ville. James Gordon Kinvig is buried in Mud Cemetery, on the northern edge of Ploegsteert Wood, alongside 84 others.

James Gordon Kinvig; b. June 19th 1888, Christchurch, d. July 31st 1917 La Basse Ville, France.

Off The Cuff

Ted Badcock, due to the fortunate positioning of his name alphabetically, is recognised as our very first Black Cap. Tom Lowry has the honour of being New Zealand’s first Test captain. But only one man can lay claim to being New Zealand’s first representative cricketer, cricket captain, and dual international; Leonard Albert Cuff. Or just Len to his mates.

Born in Christchurch in 1866, Len’s cricketing career was slow to flourish after he gained his first mention in the newspaper as a member of the Shipping side (alongside his father) against the Mercantile team in 1882. Working his way up from the Lancaster Park Cricket Club’s 3rd Grade side, Len spent most of the 1880s playing club cricket in Christchurch. His achievements were notable enough to see him selected to play for Canterbury against the touring Lillywhite’s XI in 1888, however his record was inconsistent at best.

Len’s cricketing inconsistency may have been due to the competing sporting passions in his life. Between 1888 and 1890, Len’s noted as being on the committee for the Lancaster Park Cricket Club, the secretary of the Canterbury Amateur Athletic Club, and the treasurer of the Christchurch Baseball Club. He also represented Canterbury in rugby, was a three-time New Zealand long jump champion and, later in life, was a Tasmanian golf and lawn bowls champion.

Leonard’s sporting achievements were notable but they were equally matched by his other administrative and community roles, particularly after he moved to Australia in 1899. Len lived in Tasmania until his death in 1954, serving on the St John Ambulance Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and numerous other groups. He also designed 5 golf courses. When he had the time.

However, Len’s athletic ambitions had taken precedence in 1892 as he travelled to the UK and Europe with the NZ athletic team – a trip he organised. According to his obituary, Len secured three first placings, three seconds and three thirds on this tour – including a silver medal at an international meet in Paris. It was at the Paris meet that Cuff met Pierre de Coubertin, the man who would go on to establish the modern Olympics two years later. Their meeting in 1892 was fateful for Len as he became Australiasia’s first representative on the International Olympic Committee in 1894, largely due to his familiarity to de Coubertin.

There is a bit of debate about Len’s effectiveness as a member of the IOC: he was on the committee until 1905 but New Zealand didn’t attend the Olympics until 1908. Again, this was likely due to his competing passions as, in 1894, Leonard Cuff was selected to captain New Zealand’s first representative cricket side in a match against New South Wales in Christchurch. He played in New Zealand’s first four representative matches, with his highlight being 50 in the second innings of the 1896 match against Australia. Unfortunately, that match didn’t have First Class status; New Zealand used 15 batsmen to level the field.

The bat used by Len Cuff from 1892 to 1895. - NZ Cricket Museum collection

The bat used by Len Cuff from 1892 to 1895.
NZ Cricket Museum collection

Lance Corporal Blinko of Hastings

Roland Blinko when he was a member of the Hastings' Cricket Club in 1913-14.

Roland Blinko, c. 1914.

In spite of making just one First Class appearance, Roland Blinko appears to have been a talented and gifted cricketer. In his history of Hawke’s Bay cricket, Frank Cane refers to Blinko as “ A versatile run-getter with all the strokes … [who] … also specialised very effectively in the close-in positions in the field.”

Blinko likely emigrated from the United Kingdom in 1911, initially settling and playing cricket in the Marlborough area before moving to Hastings where he worked as a cabinet maker. There, he played for the Hastings Cricket Club in 1913-14, performing well enough to earn a spot in the Hawke’s Bay side that was matched against the powerful touring Australians in their fixture at Hastings on February 18th and 19th, 1914.

Arthur Mailey autograph from 1914.

Arthur Mailey autograph, 1914.

In a side led by former English Test player, Jack Board, Blinko had a decent game against a very strong opposition. He only scored 10 in the first innings where he was bowled by the spin of Arthur Mailey. He wasn’t alone in struggling against Mailey’s leg breaks – he claimed 8 for 51 in the first innings. Blinko’s second innings was a little better. Promoted up the order, he scored 21 (the third highest score) and was described as one of the few Hawke’s Bay batsmen who could use his feet against the spin and movement of the Australian bowlers.

The highlight of the game for Blinko may well have been his catch to dismiss the great Victor Trumper. Described as a very difficult catch down by his legs, it reinforces Cane’s description of his skill as a close-in fielder. Although Hawke’s Bay lost the match by 9 wickets, getting Trumper was key to avoiding a much larger margin – he hit 293 (with, apparently, 44 fours!) against Canterbury less than a month later.

Surprisingly, Blinko did not play for Hawke’s Bay again. He was a member of the championship winning Hastings side of 1914-1915 and then disappears from the cricket field.

Blinko joined the army on the 8th of January 1916. On the 19th of April of that year he was married in Wanganui and by the end of August he was on the front line in France as a Lance Corporal in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. On the 18th of September he was wounded in the forehead and cheek during the attack on Fiers, leading to him being evacuated to England two days later. Sadly he never recovered, dying from meningitis on the 6th of January 1917 in Walton-on-Thames. He was buried exactly a year after he joined the forces.

Roland George Blinko; b. Birmingham, United Kingdom, August 1st 1886, d. Walton on Thames, United Kingdom, January 6th 1917

^BP