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The first record of cricket on the island of Newfoundland was a meeting of the St. John’s cricket club in 1824. According to Cricket N.L., a local group of cricket enthusiasts, cricket was an important part of society on the island for nearly a century, being played in St. John’s, Harbour Grace, Trinity, Twillingate and elsewhere.
The game experienced a major decline before and after the First World War, surviving in St. John’s schools until the 1930s, but otherwise played only sporadically.
Various unsuccessful attempts were made to revive the game, but it was not until Cricket N.L. was formed in 2010 that organized cricket became part of the provincial sporting scene once more.
Although cricket was important in the life and culture of Newfoundland for close to 100 years, it is now nearly forgotten, says Dave Liverman, president and a founding member of Cricket N.L.
“When settlers came here they brought their sports with them, and keeping the memory of these traditional sports alive helps us remember where Newfoundland culture originated and developed from,” Mr. Liverman said.
“The current renaissance of cricket has the same origins. The changing culture of the St. John’s area reflects significant immigration from countries where cricket is the main sport, and these new Canadians have brought their sport and culture with them, just as the original settlers did 200 years ago.”
St. John’s schools were the last hold-out for the formal game; Cricket N.L. has engaged several schools to bring it back.
“New Canadians have brought their sport and culture with them, just as the original settlers did 200 years ago.”
Active cricket programs take place at Macdonald Drive and St. Matthew’s elementary schools, and information sessions have been held at St. Bonaventure’s College and other schools in the St. John’s area.
“Revival of cricket in schools provides a nice link between physical activity, history and culture — both Newfoundland and the culture of the players now currently reviving the game,” said Mr. Liverman.
“We plan to hold the first inter-school cricket tournament since the 1930s, using a modified version of the game which can be played indoors. We also intend to revive the game through holding cricket demonstrations and events in communities where cricket used to be strong.”
Cricket N.L. is interested in working with researchers at Memorial University to examine and highlight the history and significance of cricket in the province.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on this, the near disappearance of the sport just prior to the First World War is interesting. The causes of the decline may be due to decreasing influence of English culture, greater influence of Canadian and American culture, changing economic circumstances, the challenges of playing cricket in a fairly harsh climate, and more,” said Mr. Liverman.
The organization would also like to engage Memorial in bringing cricket back to prominence in the province by helping develop opportunities for people to play it.
This project could engage researchers from various departments or schools, such as history, folklore, education, human kinetics and recreation, community health and humanities, among others.