The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Prevalebit. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25. 1882. Migrating Cricket Teams.
The Australian Eleven cricketers, as we have lately heard, have arrived at Auckland on their return home, and have been duly feted and applauded for their successful efforts in the Home country. On the other hand a strong eleven of English gentlemen cricketers has come and played two matches, one at Adelaide and one at Melbourne. In a few days the Auckland eleven will be in Ashburton, and it is stated that another Auckland eleven, nearly as good as the first, is about to start on a trip through all the principal towns in the North Island. It is clear that migrating cricket teams have now become such thoroughly acclimatised institutions that it will soon be almost as difficult for an outsider to describe all the travelling cricket teams in the colony as it is for a non-racing man to recollect the pedigrees of the principal race horses. There are some persons who contend already that too much attention is given in the papers to the reporting of the doings of these people—the cricketers, not the race horses. We doubt if there is much force in the objection, except indeed that sometimes Reuter’s agents, with the copious want of intelligence common among many of them, give details of unimportant scores, etc., when the space would be better occupied with important items of public news better worth recording. On the whole, however, there is no cause to be dissatisfied with the great interest taken in cricket wherever a British community exists. The game has become a favorite test for athletic excellence and physical training. And not without reason. There is no other game known which in so high a degree calls into play the best powers of a robust physical manhood, and to some extent even moral training. Speed, strength, ceaseless activity, endurance, discipline, courage, patience, and cool judgment are all requisite to make a .first-class cricketer. Let any one who doubts try how far in the course of a year or two he can get towards making himself, we will not say a Spofforth, a Blackham, or a Murdoch, but even a cricketer of much local note anywhere. To arraign cricket, indeed, is to do what the great Edmund Burke said he always declined to do, namely, to draw a bill of indictment against a whole nation. There was some amusement and chaffing lately in Christchurch, at the expense of the worthy Dean of Christchurch, on account of his proposed enterprise, since carried into effect, of reclaiming larrikins by accustoming them to spend more of their time in cricket and other athletic sports. Yet after all the Dean was at bottom in the right; there could not be nearly so much time or inclination for larrikinism if boys and young men generally were more thoroughly engaged in some athletic sport they took an interest in, and so in default of this, large numbers spend their spare time and cash at public-house bars, drinking beer or whisky which they don’t want, and then trying to make other people feel as uncomfortable as they do themselves. We are aware that there are some few persons of a morbid disposition, and apparently of sickly bodies, like Mr Wilkie. Collins, the novelist, who in his “ Man and Wife,” endeavors to pourtray a sporting young man who goes in for rowing, pedestrianism, swimming, etc., and is an incarnation of all that is low, brutal and blackguardly, but the writer has obviously drawn a perfectly unreal portraiture, to which he would in vain attempt to find a counter-part in real life. It does not follow that because a mm has a strong arm he must of necessity commit a murder, or that because a man has powerful and active legs he must employ them by jumping on his wife’s body. On the other hand, the tables might easily be turned on Mr Wilkie Collins, and a lazy, dissipated young man, or, for that matter, young woman, might be pictured by a fruitful novelist as not taking part in any athletic sport, but lying in bed until noon every day and reading Mr Collins’ novels without getting much good out of them. VVe have known real samples of young persons of that stamp. We don’t think cricket can. be be abolished, and we are sure it is not desirable. On the contrary, we should' prefer to see it played with as high a degree of perfection here as in Australia. One great obstacle to this at present is the illiberal and niggardly manner in which both our Government and our local public bodies have treated cricket clubs with regard to obtaining suitable pieces of ground for play, or subsidising them for improvements on lands not vested. In Victoria and New South Wales nothing is easier than for any decent cricket club to get the exclusive use of a few acres of ground, to be held by trustees in perpetuity for that particular club. In New Zealand scarcely anything is more difficult than such an acquisition. About the only feasible plan for securing a suitable cricket ground is to buy it, and many, perhaps most of the clubs, are too poor to do that. While there is this difficulty generalry prevalent New Zealand must expect to take a decidedly back seat as compared with any of the Australian colonies in the matter of cricket.