That’s Cricket: 'The love of cricket'
A child sits on the grass next to a miniature cricket kit with stumps, bat and ball, as the narrator explains that a love of cricket is inherent to 'every Australian’. Children play the game in Sydney’s backstreets, followed by footage of the Australian cricket team in action. The narrator describes a 'reversal’ on the cricket field as almost as serious as a 'national calamity’, and how easily a team’s fortunes can change in each match. Seven of the players from the successful 1930 Australian team walk onto a small oval. The captain, Bill Woodfull, addresses the camera to promote the game through the medium of talking pictures which, he says, can 'so lucidly demonstrate and explain most things’.
Summary by Poppy de Souza
In Depression-era Australia in the 1930s, backyard cricket was played by many kids in the lanes of city slums, as seen in this clip. Most footage of inner city housing in the 1930s and 1940s focuses on the poverty, the inadequate living conditions and overcrowded areas endured by those hard hit by the Depression. The children filmed here were likely to have been inner city kids – possibly rewarded for their brief appearance on film with a meal or a couple of bob. Rather than focusing on hardship, the boys here are happy to be playing a game of cricket. Furthermore, the narration offers them hope by saying that the back lanes are just one step away from the playing field.
The love of cricket synopsis
This featurette was directed by Ken G Hall for Australasian Films and made with the cooperation of seven members of the successful Australian XI cricket team, including Sir Donald Bradman, who toured England in 1930. It promotes cricket and its importance to the British Empire and Australian identity. The film includes footage from a 1905 British Pathe Gazette newsreel and a 1921 cricket tour, and highlights the sporting skill of some of the 1930s test players. Don Bradman and team captain Bill Woodfull address the audience throughout the film.
The Love of Cricket Curator's notes
Under the guidance of Australasian Films’s managing director, Stuart Doyle, Ken G Hall directed this featurette for Union Theatres about the game that, according to the closing narration, 'helps unite the Empire’. Cricket’s popularity was buoyed by the recent success of Don Bradman, one of the all-time greats of the game, and the young Hall wanted to record as many of the current cricketing champions on sound film as possible. Hall had been on staff since he was 17 – starting out in the publicity department – but this was his first major work as director for the company. He scripted the film’s narration as well as Bradman’s and Woodfull’s pieces to camera. Riding on the popularity of cricket with the populace, as well as the relatively new medium of sound film, That’s Cricket was a success with audiences at Sydney’s Prince Edward Theatre and around Australia.
The film makes explicit the importance of the game within the British Empire (of which Australia was a part). Britain – and by extension Australia, another 'civilised’ nation which played the 'gentlemen’s game’ – was spreading cricket to countries like Ceylon and India. At the height of the British presence in India (today, one of the world’s great cricketing nations), cricket is linked with colonialism. As a game common to all nations throughout the British Empire, cricket helps 'unite the Empire’ and plays an important part in 'civilising’ the peoples of the subcontinent.
Many of the players in this film can be seen in a more relaxed and informal mode in home movie footage taken by team manager WL Kelly during the 1930 tour to England (see Henshall, Mr: Australian Cricketers Visit Ceylon, Naples, Switzerland and Practise at Lords).
Notes by Poppy de Souza