The first organised game of cricket in Hawke's Bay was played on New Year's Day in 1864 on W Heslop's paddock in Puketapu, after a request was made for those interested in playing to register their interest at the courthouse.
The Militia Defence Corps stationed on Napier Hill put up a team to play against a Napier team called the "Settlers".
A newspaper report of the game said, "a delicious breeze tempered the heat, and to make matters better still, it would be difficult to find a better place for the purpose of cricketing than Puketapu".
Defence Corps bowlers Drinkwater and Ferris' bowling was "very severe" and "they put the wickets down with unpleasant rapidity".
It was said of Colonel Whitmore of the Settlers team that "for a man of his weight, [he] puts the ball about with astonishing force and truth".
The Settlers side was apparently "lamentably deficient in fielding".
Mainly due to the erratic bowling and bad fielding, the Defence Corps came out the victors.
By the 1890s cricket had become well-established with many clubs formed in Hawke's Bay.
In October 1892, for the first time, a coach service left from the Masonic Hotel, Napier, at 1.30pm sharp, carrying players to the sports field at Farndon for a cricket match between married and single men of Napier.
It was hoped this coach service would be used frequently, but the express train to Farndon Park appears to be used more frequently by the players.
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Visiting teams, such as those from Gisborne, stayed at the Masonic Hotel, and they were often taken sightseeing or to games on horse coach.
A big supporter of sport in Hawke's Bay was Frank Moeller, licensee of the Masonic Hotel, and he would let sports teams use meeting rooms free of charge in the hotel.
Hastings solicitor E H Williams in 1901 was president of the Hawke's Bay Cricket Association.
It was the desire of E H Williams and the association at the 1901 annual general meeting held at the Masonic Hotel to appoint a professional cricket coach for Hawke's Bay.
Frank Moeller would give free board and lodging at the Masonic Hotel and E H Williams would contribute to the salary of the cricket coach.
E H Williams went to England in 1901 and telegraphed back to Hawke's Bay in October that he had secured the services as coach and player for Hawke's Bay of Albert Trott (1873‒1914).
Albert was born in Australia and had represented that country and England at a national level.
This was a major coup for Hawke's Bay as he was one of the world's best all-round cricketers at that time, and only one of two players to take two hat-tricks in the same first class innings. He also apparently was the only person to have struck a ball over the top of the Lord's Pavilion.
While fielding on the boundary, it was not usual for Albert "to share an ale" with spectators.
He arrived at New Zealand in December 1901, without his wife, who stayed in England, and was very much treated as a celebrity when he arrived.
After a day's practice at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, and a night's stay, he travelled up to Napier to the Masonic Hotel.
His schedule drawn up by the Hawke's Bay Cricket Association for the period January 13 to February 1, 1902 involved coaching to schoolboys, senior players, tradesmen's clubs, Napier and Hastings clubs.
Albert left for the English summer cricket season in 1902 and returned to Hawke's Bay over the 1902/3 summer.
Unfortunately, the coaching arrangement with Albert Trott was not held to be a success by president E H Williams, who at the October 1903 annual general meeting said "he did not believe Trott ever took the slightest interest in his work from the time he came till he left, and on one occasion the speaker had to talk to him very severely, much to the president's regret, on the unsatisfactory way he performed his duties".
A new coach, Arthur Fenton, from Sydney had been engaged as a replacement coach and player. He would later represent Wellington for cricket and become groundsman at Athletic Park, Wellington.
Sadly, his benefit match in 1907 had not provided him with the expected takings upon which he could retire, and he said, "he had bowled himself into the poorhouse".
Albert Trott would play for Middlesex until 1910.
He met with a very tragic death in 1914 in England and had scribbled his will on the back of a laundry ticket, leaving his wardrobe and £4 (2019: $620) to his laundry lady.
- Signed copies of Michael Fowler's Historic Hawke's Bay book are only available from the Hastings Community Art Centre, Russell St South, Hastings for $65.
- Michael Fowler FCA (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a chartered accountant, contract researcher and writer of Hawke's Bay's history.