The Albert Cricket GroundArchie Mac |
Author: Sissons, Ric
Rating: 4 stars
The Albert Ground came within a few years of being the first venue in Sydney to host a Test match. The honour instead went to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 1882 and, as they say, the rest is history.
The SCG is rightly celebrated as one of the greatest cricketing grounds in the world while the Albert Ground faded into history. And if it wasn’t for Ric Sissons it may have stayed there.
The Albert Ground was privately built with money raised from investors. The reason for its development was to cease the unsatisfactory process of playing on the Domain, a public park in Sydney.
Author Ric Sissons takes us through the whole process, from the establishment of the ground in the 1860s through to its demise just 14 years later. Shortly before its closure the Albert Ground hosted a match between NSW and the touring English cricket team in 1877. This English team played the first two Test matches, both staged in Melbourne, although at that time the term ‘Test’ was not in use.
If the promoters of the 1877 English tour had decided to play a Test in Sydney, then it’s conceivable that the Albert Ground could have been a Test venue and its history much better known to the cricket follower.
Sissons explains that the Albert ground was sold off for residential development after the NSW Government granted the NSW Cricket Association (NSWCA) land to develop. On that land they built the SCG and there was no longer a need for the privately run Albert Ground.
The relationship, which had never been strong, between the NSWCA and the Albert Ground authorities deteriorated even further when it became clear the SCG would make the Albert Ground obsolete. The feud played out in the newspapers of the day and is an aspect of the ground’s history that is well covered by Sissons. In time the NSWCA built the SCG and it has held every Test match ever played in NSW.
The Albert ground is often mentioned in cricket books that deal with the early first class matches played in NSW. With this little publication Sissons has filled a gap in the literature of cricket.
Despite its importance to the canon of cricket literature, this could have been a dry read. However in just over 30 pages, Sissons does a fine job in providing a very entertaining and well researched account of the Albert Ground. It will appeal to all cricket fans and also those interested in the early days of Sydney society.
The Albert Cricket Ground is available from CWs friend Ken Piesse