A generation before Sir Richard Hadlee began the greatest career in New Zealand cricket, his father captained the side which first put the country on the cricketing map.

Walter Hadlee led the side now known as the Forty-Niners on the successful 1949 tour of England.

And the meticulous notes he kept on that tour formed the basis for The Skipper's Diary - a book compiled by Sir Richard, who was in Whanganui on Wednesday for the local launch of the book at Victoria Park.

"This team was under pressure to perform because had they not performed then New Zealand Cricket potentially was going to be in limbo," Sir Richard told the Chronicle.


Previous tours had lost money but this one earned 17,000 pounds, which equates to about $1million today, and allowed New Zealand Cricket to create a touring fund.

The side played 32 first-class games, winning 13, drawing 18 and losing one.

The 1949 tour also shot players like Bert Sutcliffe and John Reid into the spotlight.

"It was the emergence of new players, definitely," Sir Richard. "The 49ers, they were the first team to give New Zealand credibility and respect.

"They played a brand of cricket that was exciting. They endeared themselves, not only to the British public, but to the English media and the team took huge accolades."

Walter Hadlee fostered a culture of "bright, attacking cricket".

"Our team tried to chase down some ridiculous targets," Sir Richard said.

"In one game in Hampshire they scored 109 in 31 minutes in 11.5 overs, you know. This was the way the old man played the games right throughout his life."

He said his dad often talked about the 1949 tour but going through the original diary was more revealing.

"I can see where I got some of my traits from particularly with goal-setting and discipline.

"He's an accountant so everything's got to add up, dot the Is and cross the Ts and make sure it balanced."

Europe was still in the aftermath of WWII and the team also played one game in Germany.

"While this book that we've produced is a cricket book, it's also about history and what life was like in that time. It was the age of austerity.

"The general public actually gained respite from that negativity by focusing on sport and crowds of 25,000 to 30,000 would come to watch them.

"It's an extraordinary story really of the life and times of a cricket team on tour for eight months."