Ina Lamason is undoubtedly a pioneer in the history of women’s cricket in New Zealand. Recently, I have catalogued the Ina Lamason Collection at the NZ Cricket Museum and, through this process, have come to admire the woman known by friends and colleagues as Pic.
Here’s why I think you should too.
Born in 1912, to parents James and Edith Pickering, Ina came from Palmerston North. Here, she attended Terrace End School, known for its outstanding sporting facilities. It is while at Primary School that Ina developed her love of sports, her favourites being hockey and cricket. Between 1925 and 1927, Ina spent her last high school years at Wellington Girls’ College. The sporting facilities at the girls’ school were mediocre and Ina later campaigned to improve this, stating that sports gave girls “a healthy outlook on life… (and) the training, knowledge and strength to take the wins and losses of life”. ¹
Ina was involved in the formation of organised women’s cricket in Wellington and played for the Wellington College Old Girls Club. Ina was meant to captain the first official WHITE FERNS’ Test against England in February 1935. However, she was injured in the Wellington v England match a week out from the game and could not play in the historic match.
Following that disappointment, she captained the Wellington side to victory in the first challenge for the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield against Auckland in 1936. In 1938, Ina again got the chance to captain a New Zealand side, leading the team on their tour of New South Wales. While the team played the NSW side – featuring future Australian Test captain, Molly Dive – they didn’t face the Australian national side, so Ina’s Test debut continued to be delayed.
In 1939, this delay was extended when England’s planned tour of New Zealand was cancelled with the on-set of the Second World War. The Hallyburton Johnstone competition continued during the war, but by 1947,
it had been near on ten-years since the kiwis had been given an opportunity to compete at an international level. English county teams were known to organise their own tours to New Zealand and a few of the Wellington team thought they would have a go at it.
So Pic and two or three of us, we got together and decided we would take an unofficial team to Australia. So we had six-weeks over there. We played in New South Wales, Brisbane and country towns such as Goulburn and Ballarat. We had a wonderful time.
– Joy Lamason
Up until recently, much of the detail of this unofficial tour was a mystery. At the Museum and among the community, there was some knowledge that there had been a tour to Australia in the late 1940s, but little to no record of it existed. This is because the tour was organised by players rather than by the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council, meaning a lack of official documentation.
At present, the Museum is focusing on cataloguing female cricket player’s collections. In the Ina Lamason Collection there were a few photos which we could not connect to any official games. This was until a photo of the 1947 touring team was discovered. The photo, entitled ‘Women’s Touring Cricket Team, Australian Tour 1947’, features Wellington, Auckland, and Canterbury players.
As the ’47 tour was not official, and the team did not play the Australian national side, she was yet to captain an official New Zealand women’s team or even play in a Test. It wasn’t until 13 years after the 1935 match against England, that Ina captained the New Zealand Test team against the touring Australian women’s side in 1948. This tour was organised in response to ’47 and, while the New Zealand side had “learned an awful lot” from their unofficial games over the Tasman, they still only managed 236 in two innings compared to Australia’s 338 in one.
Ina went on to captain the team during the 1949 England tour to New Zealand and was Rona McKenzie’s vice-captain for the next northern tour in 1954. Ina retired from international cricket following this tour, yet she continued to play for Wellington until 1962, by which time she was 50.
Following the death of her husband, Jack, in 1961, Ina shifted to Auckland where she intended to retire from cricket. Her old Wellington teammate, Dot Simons, had other plans. Dot convinced Ina to help establish a women’s cricket association on the North Shore. Ina turned out for the team in the 1963-64 season. The following season, she managed the side to first division status and continued to play club level until the 1970s.
In 1958, Ina became a national selector and continued this role until 1976. She also managed the New Zealand team to Australia in 1956, and was an assistant-manager, to her sister-in-law Joy, for the 1966 tour to England and the first Women’s World Cup held in 1973. During this time, Ina also served on the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council for several years.
In 1989, Ina was awarded an MBE for services to cricket and hockey. At this time, she was also awarded life membership to many of the organisations that she had helped throughout her sporting life.
Ina was known as an aggressive captain and a determined batswoman. She was a capable bowler and a friend to many a cricketer. Together with, sister-in-law, Joy, Ina helped developed New Zealand women’s cricket from the establishment of the Wellington domestic side to assisting with the organisation of the inaugural 1973 World Cup.
The Ina Lamason Collection at the New Zealand Cricket Museum mainly consists of photographs and is a window to the history of women’s cricket in New Zealand, as well as featuring players from both the Australian and English national sides. You can view the Ina Lamason Collection here and can expect to see some of her photographs in the forthcoming book on the history of New Zealand women’s cricket, to be released ahead of the World Cup in 2021. If you are interested in finding out more about this book or want to get involved with the project, visit the webpage.
¹ Quote from Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, entry on Ina Lamason written by Adrienne Simpson. Much of the research material for this piece is also from Adrienne Simpson’s archives.
Cover photo: the 1947 New Zealand women’s team during their unofficial Australian tour. Eris Paton Collection, nzcricketmuseum.co.nz