Cricket has been at home at Haverford College longer than anywhere else in the United States, if not anywhere in North America. Here, the first Cricket club made up entirely of American-born youth was founded in 1834, just a year after the school itself was opened. The game was introduced at Haverford by William Carvill, an English gardener brought over to landscape the new campus just outside Philadelphia on the Main Line. Thirty years later, the first intercollegiate Cricket match, between Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania, was played in 1864.
So, the choice of Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia as the site for cricket’s American headquarters was most appropriate. Throughout the 19th century and for almost 100 years until the 1920’s, cricket, with its particular emphasis upon ethics and sportsmanship, was a distinctive element in the social life of the Philadelphia area. Philadelphia was probably the only city in the United States where, for a brief period, cricket could draw as large attendance and command as full journalistic reporting as baseball.
On Cope Field, which inspired Dr. Francis Benson’s well-known poem, “The Field,” Haverford has kept up the wickets of American Cricket ever since. In 1896, Haverford sent the first American undergraduate XI to England under the captaincy of John A. Lester. This was followed by numerous other tours to England and several tours of Canada over the next 25 years. In more recent times, tours of England, Canada and the Caribbean have been highlights for the Haverford XI as they have stood as the only undergraduate cricket team in America.
For a historical review of American cricket from colonial times to the present, you are referred to: Cricket in America.
Written by Amar Singh ’54, this is a work in process (© 1996; Amar Singh). What is posted is Chapter 1. It covers the period from the early 1700’s to late 1800’s.
For a well-written history of the near athletic civil war, lasting from 1850 to 1920, between Baseball and Cricket at Haverford College, you are referred to: A Tale of Two Sports: Haverford’s Baseball-Cricket Wars.
Written by Greg Kannerstein ’63, (© 1995; Haverford College) this article was published in HAVERFORD, the Alumni Magazine of Haverford College in the Fall 1995 edition and is reprinted here by permission. This is a long article, just over 4,000 words or 10 printed pages. Most the pictures from the original article (all from the collection) are used throughout these web pages.