Rugby Meet the Sneddens, New Zealand’s cricketingest family

Rugby These addons are unbelievable.

Dec 1, 2019

  • Shashank Kishore

Imagine walking into a sports ground knowing your great-great-grandfather once owned the land on which it stands. Imagine watching your father pilot the country’s successful hosting of the rugby World Cup final, as head of the organising body for the event, on the same ground over a century later, in 2011. Sixty-one thousand anxious fans gasped through the heart-stopping last minutes of that thrilling game, which New Zealand won, bringing unparalleled joy to a nation still reeling in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Christchurch earlier in the year. Watching the game firmed Michael Snedden’s resolve to play for New Zealand.

Why are we talking about Snedden? Well, in October 2019, when he turned up for his new side, Wellington, at the Basin Reserve, four generations of his family had played first-class cricket in the country.

The Sneddens are one of the most accomplished sporting families anywhere, not just New Zealand. Except, in the cricketing world, they’re not nearly as celebrated or as well known as the Chappells or the Hadlees.

Martin Snedden, Michael’s father, is a former Test cricketer, who retired in 1990, two years before Michael was born. Martin has been a cricket administrator for close to two decades; between 2001 and 2007, he was chief executive of New Zealand Cricket.

ALSO READ: Michael Snedden becomes fourth-generation Snedden in first-class cricket

“Coming from a cricket-mad family would’ve invited scrutiny [for Michael] and that much focus elsewhere in the world, but for us Kiwis, it was a very normal thing,” Martin says. “We had the freedom, space and time to pursue the game we loved, without there being any pressure. As such, the unwritten law was that we had to have careers outside the game, because just your surname isn’t a ticket to represent the country.”

Martin’s great-grandfather Alexander was one in a group of cricket-crazy friends who acquired a piece of stony, swampy land in the Sandringham suburb of Auckland in the early 1900s and spent money turning it into a cricket ground. Alexander, by virtue of being one of nine people who personally guaranteed the loan they took, became one of the registered owners of the land, which today stands as Eden Park under the Eden Park Trust.

Martin’s father, Warwick, played for Auckland. Warwick’s brother Colin played a Test for New Zealand against Wally Hammond’s MCC team in 1946-47. Their father, Nessie, had a decade-long career for New Zealand, interrupted by the First World War.

Martin’s grandfather on his mother’s side, Bill Quane, was New Zealand’s 100-yard hurdles champion in the 1920s. He was also a renowned athletics coach who built a long-jump pit and high-jump bar (with mattresses to land on) in his vegetable garden at home.

That backyard was the scene of many cricket matches between Martin and his three older brothers. “As the youngest of them, I had to bowl and they batted, which is why maybe I grew up to become a bowler,” laughs Martin, who took 172 international wickets. Years later, young Michael too would spend his summers playing backyard cricket there with his dad.

As a ten-year old, Michael also spent a lot of time in his father’s office at Eden Park, making his way to the nets area whenever the nat

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