If not for two mates from New Zealand, cricket’d be in trouble
IN 1926, NEW ZEALAND was invited to join the Imperial Cricket Conference, along with India and the West Indies. In the 83 years since then, two New Zealanders have made major contributions to the ICC, the first being Sir Arthur Sims.
Born in Spridlington, Lincolnshire, in 1877, Sims family came to New Zealand when he was two. An outstanding student, by 19, Sims was playing for Canterbury. In 1905, he captained both Canterbury and New Zealand in matches against Australia.
Sims was also an astute businessman and his work required him to move to London, where from 1907 to 1913, he intermittently played for Dr. W.G.Grace’s London County side, alongside Prince Ranjitsinhji and Archie MacLaren.
In 1914, Sims managed to orchestrate a private cricket tour by Australian XI to New Zealand, footing all the trip expenses himself. The Australian Board of Control opposed the venture but the team went ahead. The players insisted that Sims captain the team – a notable achievement for a New Zealander.
The home side and Sim’s old team, Canterbury, was dismissed for a paltry 92 runs. The visitors struggled to 209-7, when Victor Trumper joined Sims. In 190 minutes, the pair added a world-record of 433 runs for the eighth wicket, which still stands today. Trumper struck up 293 of his finest career runs and Sims ended at 184, not out.
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In 1926, when New Zealand joined the ICC, Sims became its representative and remained so until 1967. He was instrumental in arranging New Zealand’s first six tours of the United Kingdom. He became a noted philanthropist and financier and in 1950, Sims was knighted on the recommendation of the British Government.
Without any doubt, Sir John Anderson was the other New Zealander who made a major contribution to the ICC.
A cricketer of vision, Anderson played senior cricket for Wellington and in an aggressive manner befitting a right-arm, fast-medium bowler and hardhitting lower-order batsman.
The period between 1994-95 was the “annus horribillis’ for New Zealand Cricket. There was a complete meltdown as the elected Board of Control dissolved itself and was replaced by an appointed Board of Directors, under the chairmanship of Sir John Anderson, KBE.
In eight months from the appointment, a quasiprofessional group, bereft of facilities and staff, was transformed into a vibrant, fully professional organization. Within two years, the six major associations were fully funded and operating revenue had doubled.
When Sir John attended his first ICC meeting at Lord’s in July 1996, that organisation was in crisis, too. There was the alarming spectacle of one of the members challenging the constitution of the ICC, in pursuit of personal power. What was supposed to be a formal transition of international power from the MCC to ICC was threatening to split world cricket.
The period between 1994-95 was the ‘annus horribilis’ for New Zealand Cricket
Sir John’s expertise in business management came to the fore. His insight and understanding of the problems facing ICC were immediately acknowledged. Within a year, a plan he devised was implemented. The ICC became an incorporated body with a new governance structure that saw more accountability and participation from all.
The new, professionally-driven ICC took charge of the Cricket World Cup, ensured the hosting of a major annual world competition and the inclusion of the women’s game into the ICC cricket family.
In the turbulent seas that cricket has traversed for the last fifteen years, Sir John Anderson remained the quiet voice of reason both for New Zealand Cricket and at the ICC before he retired in September 2008.
Cricket archivist Paddianne Neely contributed to this article