At the start of the 1901-02 season the Mercury cricket writer was very despondent about prospects for the season ahead. He felt the only hope for reviving “the waning interest in the good old game” was in a visit from an English team or a strong Sydney team. The clubs were criticised for paralysing the efforts of the Association by their “lack of support” – the clubs “apparently look upon the Association as a separate body and do not recognise the fact that the clubs make the Association in the true sense of the word”. He hoped the situation would change in the coming season and cricket would once again hold the position in Maitland “that it occupied in years gone by”.
For the first time for more than fifteen years Maitland did receive a visit from an English team. Archie MacLaren’s touring team played a match at the Albion ground on November 29 and 30 1901 against a Northern District 18 consisting of the following players: R Lindsay, L Moore, E capp, C Onus, H Harden, A Cunningham, J McKay, PS Waddy, EL Waddy, EF Waddy, T Hogue, A Bridge, J Clayton, W McGlinchey, A Lawrie, F Dight, M Bourke and C Maguire. An interesting feature of the team was that it contained three brothers from the famous Waddy family of Morpeth – Percy, Edgar and Ernest. Two of these – Edgar (EL) and Ernest (EF) were later to play for the State.
Before the match it was reported that Alf Giles, the caretaker of the Albion ground, was “laying himself out to produce a tip top wicket” and batsmen who failed to score on it would have “no cause for complaint” in that direction.
The match was remarkable for the high scoring of the Northern District team. After a day and a halfs play they closed at lunch with the score at 15 for 558 – the highest score ever in the Hunter Valley against an international touring team. Bob Lindsay showed “great maturity and much variety in his stroke making” to score 104, thus giving him the (distinction of becoming the first Hunter Valley batsman to make a century against an English touring team. Another century maker was E Capp from Singleton who make 114 not out. Wally McGlinchey also scored 92 in “an innings of charm and refined elegance”.
In reply to the mammoth score MacLaren’s XI were 5 for 221 on the second day when rain washed out play. The Mercury commented: “Profiting by their experience in Maitland the Englishmen have declined to play more than 15 district cricketers in Newcastle”.
An interesting sequel to the match occurred about a month later when Alf Giles, the curator of the Albion ground wicket which had provided such a “run feast” in the match, received a photo of the ground that the English team had arranged to be taken. The photo was sent “with compliments and congratulations for winning the honour of preparing the finest wicket in the world, recognised by MacLaren’s team of cricketers, Maitland Oval, November ’29 and ’30 1900-01 “.
During the 1901-02 season Maitland also received a visit from a Sydney team that played a match against a Northern District side on Christmas and Boxing Day. The Northern team was made up of seven players from the HRI)CA, three from Newcastle DCA and one from Singleton: H Harden, R Lindsay, C Onus, J Kerrigan, L Moore, M Rourke, J Baker (HRDCA); W McGlinchey, EF Waddy, J Clayton (Newcastle DCA); and E Capp (Singleton). The Sydney team won the match on the first innings 370 and 9 for 14() to Northern District’s 238 (W McGlinchey 68, L Moore 40, E F Waddy 36).
In the local senior competition Pearl Club won the premiership for the third year in succession. A lot of its success was due to Leon Moore who headed the batting averages with 66.6 runs per innings.
A highlight of the local competition was a first wicket partnership of 444 between Bob Lindsay (‘242 n.o) and Charlie Onus (19’2) in a match against East Maitland on the Albion ground in November 1900-01. This has remained as a long-standing district record and at the time was claimed as an Australian record. Even more remarkably, two days later on the same ground in a match against Glendon, Charlie Onus with 117 n.o figured in an unbeaten opening partnership of 335 with Harry Harden who scored 198 n.o..
However, neither the English visit nor the visit of the Sydney team proved to be the tonic the Mercury reporter hoped would lift the game locally. During the next season the Association was to face its most serious crisis.