The 36th Battalion: a record of service of the 36th Battalion with the Third Division in the Pacific
III — Cricket
Though cricket may not have played so spectacular a part in the battalion's history as other sports, our eleven has at least had the distinction of having had its colours lowered by no other unit—no mean achievement.page 98
In Fiji cricket was not very popular, mainly because of the intense heat of the early months of 1942. In addition, the tactical situation demanded a six-day working-week, which left only Sundays to play games and prepare everything else for the following week. Still a few enthusiasts got together, and arranged friendly games against other military and civilian teams. Possibly the most enjoyable games were those played against the Fijian native police on their picturesque ground at Nasova Barracks. No player will ever forget the wonderful bowling performances of Villiami,. the big Fijian constable. For long spells, unchanged, he would bowl those medium fast in-swingers which few could play with any confidence. In these games E. G. Batstone and W. Barr-Brown proved themselves first-class batsmen, and any runs made by them were well worth watching.
It was not until Norfolk Island that cricket really came into its own. The interest was very keen, and a good rivalry soon grew up.
However, there was a great difficulty in preparing wickets. Norfolk had only one good wicket—the concrete matting one on the Kingston Oval. Some of the companies set to work on the rough paddocks, and produced quite fair wickets, possibly the best being 'Orton's Oval' of C company. HQ company had quite a good wicket on Ike's paddock, but the boundaries were short, and very often a lucky snick through the slips would go for a six over the fence into the vegetable garden at one end or on top of the tents on the other.
On Wednesday afternoons inter-company games were played, in which HQ company and C company proved the strongest teams. Two complete rounds were played, with HQ the winners in the first and C in the second. Nevertheless, due to the vagaries of the wickets, either of these sides was liable to collapse and several times was beaten by other companies. Later in the season the RNZAF entered a team in the competition, and this brought rivalry to its keenest pitch.
His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Cyril Newall, meeting: men of the battalion in their jungle camp during his tour of units of the Third Division
CommandersAbove left: Lieutenant-Colonel J. W. Barry, the battalion's first commander. He was succeeded by Lieuten-ant-Colonel K. B. Me-Kenzie - Muirson, MC, (above right), who took the battalion through the action in the Trea-suries. On the left is Lieutenant - Colonel B. H. Pringle, who took command of the battalion after Lieu-tenant-Colonel McKen-zie - Muirson returned to New Zealand
Our main rival, though, was the ack-ack team. Our first clash took place on the tricky Hutchinson Domain wicket. On the first innings the battalion team was slightly in the lead, so the ack-ack went after the runs in their second knock and declared, leaving us 80 runs to get in forty minutes. Mainly due to a great knock by E. G. Batstone of 45 runs in fifteen minutes, we did the trick and wrote off the runs with five minutes to spare and with eight wickets in hand. In the second encounter, held in Kingston Oval, we batted first and made 135 in two and a half hours. In the same time the ack-ack made 87 for seven wickets, and we claimed a moral victory. Lyons' feat of bowling for two and a half hours unchanged and returning four for 32 was a great effort.
The third and final game was held at Kingston late in March 1943. Again we batted first, but could make only 98 runs. The ack-ack went in full of confidence. A thrilling finale to the season came when their last man, in attempting a big hit which probably would have given them victory, had his stumps spreadeagled by a good length ball from W. Tricklebank.
The battalion eleven more or less picked itself, in the company games, and remained fairly constant throughout the season. Our regular players were T. Lyons, R. E. Thomas, E. G. Batstone, A, Siddall, D. R. Orton, W. Barr-Brown, W. Tricklebank, E. Densem, A. B. Willis and W. Thompson. As the season progressed, the civilian eleven could not field a full side, so members of the battalion under T. Welch helped them to maintain their side. Toward the end nine members of the battalion were playing regularly for their., and met with average success.