History of the Ottawa Valley Cricket Council
In the twenties, a modest expansion of Ottawa cricket took place. Three new clubs, Defense (formerly Militia), Christ Church Cathedral and New Edinburgh were formed and they still operate at the present time. In order to organize the cricket, which was now on League scale, the Ottawa Valley Cricket Council had been formed in 1920, the original constitution of which was drawn up in 1923.
A Governor-General of the inter-war period who took a keen interest in Ottawa cricket was Lord Willingdon who had been a member for four years in the Cambridge University XI.
The second World War posed serious problems for the administrators of the game in Ottawa, not the least of which was the loss of so many players. The situation was, however, saved by the influx of Commonwealth players who were serving in the armed forces. Much was owed, too, to the encouragement of Lord Athlone, the Governor-General, who donated trophies for annual competition in batting, bowling and fielding.
The Ottawa Valley Cricket Council is now the smallest of the five leagues in the Ontario Cricket Association and nobody will pretend that cricket now plays a significant part in the life of Canada’s capital or that its expansion, such as it has been, has kept pace with the growth of the City itself. It has, however, continuously provided a great source of enjoyment for many persons in beautiful surroundings and over a long period of time. At Rideau Hall, Ottawa posses a ground which has a setting as fine as any in Canada, of not in the world, and the game has a long and honorable history, which is intimately linked with successive Governors- General.
A Short History of the Game of Cricket in Canada
The ancient sport of Creag evolved gradually into cricket as we know it today. According to court proceedings at Guildford in 1598, boys played Creag there in 1550.
Cricket is worldwide and has been played in the most unlikely locations. From places like Riga, Sofia, Jerez to East Greenland, West Spitzbergen and Salonika. Ships companies of the H.M.S. Fury and Hecla played on the Polar cap on March 15th of 1823. The journal of the second voyage for the Discovery of the North West passage shows the intrepid explorers playing cricket on the pack ice, within the Arctic circle in 1824. By 1850 cricket was being played in Australia, South Africa, Incia and the West Indies. In 1859 Parr and Widsen’s team left England for the shores of Canada and the United States – that being the first cricket tour.
The French Canadians have not completely shunned the game, as early as 1785 – or three years before the first settlement at Botany Bay they planed cricket after Sunday mass in Montréal. There was a thirty year void without any written records of Canadian cricket until 1819 when the Duke of Richmond, then Governor General, played at Kingston, Ontario. By 1831 cricket was in fact being taught in schools. By 1867 the game was declared the national sport of the country by the first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald.
Sir C. Aubrey Smith, who captained England in the first test against South Africa in 1889, gingered up cricket in Southern California. In Hollywood he founded a club that included: David Niven, Cary Grant, George Sanders and Basil Rathbone among others.
Cricket like no other sport has had a rich history of literature and no greater contribution has been made to it than that of John Nyren and Sir Nevile Cardus. Cricket has been mastered over the years and the deeds of the greats have been immortalized with their names. Name like: Grace, Hobbs, Ranjitsinhji, Bradman and Constantine.
In a more serious vein, apprehend the truth of john Arlott’s declaration “No man should call the game dull who is not prepared to understand it. Twenty two good cricketers cannot be uninterested to watch, but they are sometimes too subtly skillful to appeal to the eye of the sensation hunter. Watching cricket is a quiet pursuit. When the eyes have seen it all it still remains for the contemplative mind to transmute what is seen into contemplative enjoyment.”
The noble game has long symbolized team effort but paradoxically cricket is also the sport of the individualist and the phrase “not cricket” has become synonymous with “unfair play”.
At no other time in it’s history has cricket been badgered by such pernickety pressures. In the recent past the very soul of cricket has been preyed upon – a soul too extraordinary to be categorized. Hugh McIlvanney says “The floods of banknotes washed the athletes towards an entirely understandable but un-heroic pragmatism. The went for the loot and let the glory look after itself. The simple truth is that cricket cannot withstand such values. It has always been a ferociously hard game but the hardness has to be confined within delicately drawn lines. Ina contest of such subtle complexity, sportsmanship is no mere sentimental indulgence. It is as basic as the bat and ball. Without it the essence of the game dissolves as in acid. Something marketable may be left but it won’t be cricket.”
In a similar fashion Scyld Berry has this to say “Cricket like a subtle work o nature is too intricate to be tampered with. The ball, the center of attention has been the only red thing on the field. Change the ball and cricket’s whole color scheme is upset. It will be a matter of endlessly cutting down the table legs to set it right again.”
Author - Manzoor Khan