After plenty of rain continually prevented the commencement of play, the Argentine Cricket Association was finally able to hold the 109th North vs South Argentina cricket match on Sunday 9th March. A three-day match had been planned, but owing to the weather, a one-day match instead took place at Belgrano Athletic Club. The North side, led by captain Alejandro Ferguson, closed the first innings after 50 overs with 155 runs. The South side, captained by Esteban MacDermott, took the second innings with 156 runs, six out, after 33-and-a-half overs, winning the match.
The losing team lost no time in pointing out mitigating circumstances, perhaps as an excuse for the game’s result. James Lowen, member of the North team, said: “The match would have been closer had the elements not intervened. For the first half of the day, the pitch was still very damp, meaning that batting was slow and hard. Hence we [North] scored far fewer than we needed. By the time the South were batting, the pitch had dried and batting was a lot easier.”
The North vs South Argentina match has been played annually since 1891, and is considered ‘the jewel in the crown’ of Argentine cricket, the biggest, hardest-fought and most precious fixture in the Argentine Cricket Association’s annual calendar. The golden age of the match was in the twenties and thirties, when the standard of play is said to have reached national level. Following the Second World War, many of the long-time team members dispersed and the end of the contest was predicted. However, the contest was revived following a rejuvenation campaign by the ACA, and cricket in Argentina now has a good future ahead of it.
The match brings together players from all over Argentina, natives and expats alike. At the moment the North team includes players from Hurlingham Club, Belgrano Athletic Club and Colegio San Jorge Norte, while the South XI includes members of the Lomas Athletic Club, St Alban’s and Colegio San Jorge Quilmes.
A bit of history
Cricket has been played in Argentina since 1806. The Argentine Cricket Association was formed in 1913, and Argentina has been a member of the International Cricket Council since 1974.
Argentina first played international cricket against Uruguay in 1868 and up to the Second World War, 29 encounters took place, with Argentina winning 21. Argentina’s closest rival is Brazil – the series of matches between them dates back to 1888. Matches have also been played against Chile, the first in 1893, with the team taking three and a half days to reach Santiago, crossing the Andes by mule!
Argentina was runner up last year in the World Cricket League, in the second division. They are ranked 22nd in the world.
Like many other sports in Argentina, such as rugby and polo, cricket was introduced to Argentina by the British. Indeed, in the leafy suburban surroundings of Belgrano, along with the delightfully quaint village-green-style pavilion, it did feel like a typically English cricket match – a bit of Britain in Buenos Aires. Most remarkable was that many of the calls on the pitch were made in English, despite all but five of the players being Argentine.