The Home of NT Cricket

Our History

NT Cricket (known previously as the NTCA) was established as the governing body for cricket across the Northern Territory in 1978; the same year that the Commonwealth granted the Northern Territory Self-Government.

Origins of Cricket in the NT

Cricket is the Northern Territory’s oldest team sport, dating back over 150 years, with records showing that when European settlement was established at Palmerston (as Darwin was known prior to 1911) in 1869, cricket was one of the first sports observed. 

The first cricket competition was played in 1874 and Port Darwin CC (1881-1911) was the mainstay of cricket up until 1911. The Territory’s first inter-colonial cricket match was played in Palmerston between West Kimberly gold miners and Port Darwin in 1889 and the first cricket in Central Australia was reported at the Arltunga goldfields in 1904. 

Port Darwin Cricket Club, c1900 (Photographer unknown, LANT, Historical Society of the Northern Territory Inc, NTRS 1854, Item 293)

Wartime Cricket

World War I brought great social change to Darwin. Vestey Brothers, a British multinational, built a meat-processing and freezing works and Darwin's population grew rapidly from 1,173 in 1911 to 3,767 in 1918. The Great Depression came early to Darwin after Vesteys closed at the end of the war and the Northern Territory economy languished. For most of the 1920s and 1930s the Darwin cricket competition consisted of three teams. After 1933, when the building of Darwin’s military defences began, military unit teams began to join the competition. 

By the 1930s cricket was well established in Alice Springs with regular games played on the Alice Springs recreation reserve (now known as ANZAC Hill Oval). Women also began to play cricket in Alice Springs during this period. The Tennant Creek gold rush of 1932 resulted in the rapid development of the town and by 1936 there was a 6-team competition. 

Alice Springs Recreation Ground, c1930 (Photographer unknown, Conservation Commission of the NT, CCNT Collection, NTAS, NTRS 3833, ASTS 370)

World War II transformed the social and political landscape of the Northern Territory. Cricket was played at almost every military base across the NT during the war. Cricket matches were often social, but cricket competitions were played wherever the number of teams warranted it and included many players with first-class experience. 

Cricket team, Soldiers, Darwin, 1945 (Photographer unknown, Eric Lukeman Collection, LANT, PH0506-0016)

Post-War Intertown & Interstate Cricket

The Northern Territory Cricket Association (NTCA) resumed control of cricket in Darwin in 1946, with the majority of the 10 teams representing military units. The Alice Springs Cricket Association (ASCA) was formed in late 1946 with three teams. In May 1947 the Tennant Creek Cricket Association (TCCA) was established. In August the same year Tennant Creek issued a challenge for a match against Alice Springs. Intertown cricket was a feature of this period and was keenly contested from the beginning. Katherine established a three-team competition by 1950. 

December 1952 saw the first ‘interstate’ cricket game between Alice Springs and Mt Isa. In 1957 the competition was extended to include Darwin, and the Crossle-Cameron Shield was introduced. By 1970 Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and Tennant Creek all competed. This competition was renamed the Calder Shield in 1972 and was the Territory’s premier inter town competition until the early 2000s.  

1984 Calder Shield winners, Alice Springs (Photographer unknown, Neville Jones personal collection, Eric Lukeman Collection)

NT Representative Cricket

In 1964 and 1965, a Northern Territory colts side competed in the South Australian Schoolboys Cricket Association carnival making it one of the earliest Territory school representative sides.  

In 1978, as the Northern Territory Cricket Association (NTCA) was reformed, its main task was to build the capacity of the organisation to support and develop cricket across the Territory, and to advocate to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) for greater recognition and resources. 

In one of the NTCA’s first initiatives, a Northern Territory ‘representative’ team was selected to tour Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang. It was also the first year that the NT competed in the Australian U16s Championship, followed a few years later in 1985 with the NT entering a team in the National U19s Championships. 

Competing in Australian underage competitions was an important step in creating Northern Territory pathways to first class cricket. Another essential step towards first class cricket was the introduction of turf wickets in Alice Springs at Traeger Park in 1980 and at Darwin’s Southern Districts Fred’s Pass ground in 1982. The NTCA played its first game at its Marrara headquarters in 1988.

Attracting International Cricket to the NT

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the NTCA organised many first-class games in Alice Springs in order to showcase Territory cricket against both State XIs and International teams. International matches included Sri Lanka (1988), the 1977 Australia Centenary Test team (1990), Pakistan (1992) and the West Indies (1996).

The NT hosted its first Test match in Darwin when Australia played Bangladesh in July 2003 at Marrara Stadium, followed by an ODI in August. In July 2004, Australia hosted Sri Lanka in Darwin’s second Test match, with a subsequent ODI against Bangladesh in the September.

In 2004 the NTCA was renamed Northern Territory Cricket (NTC) as the peak sporting body for cricket in the Territory.