Cricket was probably the first sport played in Hamilton. Though it always had a large following, it never aroused the feeling nor, except briefly, received the support rugby could command.
There had been periods of strength, especially during the early 1930s when a Waikato XI did very well in the competition for minor associations. In the 1950s several Waikato cricketers, among them Hamilton players, represented Auckland in first-class matches. This strength underscored a regional movement to form an association to play in the first-class competition for the Plunket shield trophy.
Until then only four provinces had first-class status; then at the start of the 1950s a Central Districts association, representing the southern part of the North Island excepting Wellington and the top part of the South Island, had received first-class status. In the early 1950s a Northern Districts association was formed along similar lines. Its scope was wider than the Waikato: it drew players from Northland, Thames Valley, King Country, and the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne areas. However, Hamilton was the recognised centre for the association. For the first decade, all first-class games 'at home' were played at Seddon Park. Most of the players were from the Waikato.
Northern Districts did not have the immediate success in its early years. However, during the early 1960s the tide turned. Defeats were turned into close victories, close victories into a string of successes. After seven years of trying, in the summer of 1963 the Northern Districts team faced triumph. To win the Plunket Shield, its batsmen had to make nearly 200 runs against Canterbury. At one stage three wickets were down for fifty runs and people shook their heads with worry. Gradually it all came right. In a long partnership, shaky before lunch and polished and assured through the warmth of the middle afternoon, two batsmen marched (or ran) towards victory.
This pair were recent additions to the population of Hamilton. Bruce Pairaudeau had come from British Guiana, Bert Sutcliffe, though an Aucklander, was long identified with Otago and Dunedin. Both had played test cricket with success in many parts of the world. Now their arena was Seddon Park. People in shops and offices clustered around radios. Those who could went to the park, a steady stream of well wishers flowed in all afternoon as the runs mounted. Northern's cricket was not often stylish but the batsmen this day added grace to their favours. The unusually large crowd was appreciative and proud.
Since this day N D Cricket (with their top team known as the State Northern Knights) has been regular trophy winners both at first class and age group levels