11 DAYS OF CRICKET: Day 1 – There are 11 days to go until the Chairman’s IV Ashes Tour match in Alice Springs, Nov 29-30th. We confess – in our office we don’t know a lot about cricket (big tennis and cycling fans here!). SO, for the next 11 days we are going to go on a fact finding mission of all things cricket! First up, we wanted to know when and where cricket was first played in Alice Springs. History is always a good place to start.
After a bit of digging, we found that in the 1920’s Central Australian social occasions were few and far between. People had to make their own entertainment! In some ways, we are still doing this today, with ongoing unique events like the Camel Cup and the Henley on Todd Boat Regatta. But back in the 20’s even a small get together was considered a major event! Enter cricket.
New to town, hotelier Ly Underdown or ‘Uncle’ Ly was particularly interested in cricket and he dug up some equipment at a local college. There was no regular competition, but residents got together for a casual game when they could. There was probably some picnic food involved, perhaps a lemon squash or maybe a beer (I am making that bit up – but why wouldn’t there be?).
Anyway, in 1948 when the original Alice Springs Hotel was renovated, Uncle Ly thought outside the square and established a cricket pitch on the hotel’s flat roof. Can you imagine? I wonder where the cricket balls ended up? I bet there were a few smashed windows, but then again, the Alice Springs CBD probably wasn’t so built up then.
Uncle Ly would go on to play a significant role in the development of both the town and the love of cricket amongst the population. You can see this for yourself by checking out the wall of “Uncles Tavern” on Gregory Terrace. And the beer’s cold and the pub meals are great value.
Who would have thought that some borrowed cricket gear and a rooftop cricket pitch would lead to Alice Springs’ love of cricket and the excitement of the Chairman’s XI Ashes Tour coming to town? Here’s wishing the locals, visitors and of course, the UK’s Barmy Army are bowled over by their time in the Red Centre.