Page 1: Biography
Lamason, Ina Mabel
Cricketer, hockey player and umpire, secretary, sports administrator and writer
This biography, written by Adrienne Simpson, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol 5, 2000.
Ina Lamason was a sporting phenomenon. She represented New Zealand at cricket and hockey, was an international hockey umpire and served both sports as an administrator. Born Ina Mabel Pickering in Palmerston North on 2 May 1912, she was the daughter of James Pickering, a painter and paperhanger, and his wife, Edith Jane Tucker. Her early education was at Terrace End School, which had outstanding sporting facilities. By contrast there were few recreational amenities at Wellington Girls’ College, where she was a pupil from 1925 to 1927. She later campaigned to improve facilities there because she felt sport gave girls ‘a healthy outlook on life, confidence … [and] the training, knowledge, and strength to take the wins and losses of life’.
Known to her friends and colleagues as Pic, Ina enjoyed tennis, badminton, golf, swimming and cycling, but preferred team games. Her first love was hockey. She represented Manawatu at primary school level and played one game for Wellington in 1926 as a 14-year-old. Between 1931 and 1949 she was a regular member of the Wellington provincial side, but her only international appearance was against Fiji in 1936.
Ina’s cricketing career was more extensive and gave her the chance to enjoy another favourite pastime, travel. She was one of a group of women who initiated playing organised cricket in Wellington in the 1930s, and she first represented the province during the 1934–35 season. Injury prevented her playing in New Zealand’s inaugural women’s cricket test in 1935, but she captained the national side on its first overseas tour, to New South Wales in 1938. On 19 December that year, in Wellington, she married John (Jack) Rider Lamason, a schoolteacher, who was a Wellington rugby and cricket representative and former cricket international.
The Second World War interrupted Ina Lamason’s sporting career. It was not until 20 March 1948 that she made her long-awaited test cricket début, when she led New Zealand in a three-day test against Australia at the Basin Reserve. She was captain against the visiting England team in 1949 and vice captain of the New Zealand touring team to England in 1954. After the tour she retired from international cricket, but continued to play for Wellington until the end of the 1961–62 season.
An aggressive captain who was noted primarily for her determined batting, Lamason also bowled useful slow-medium right-arm off-spinners. Her only international success as a bowler came on the 1954 tour of England, when she took 2 for 23 in the second test at Worcester. On the same tour she made her highest test score, 37 not out, in the third test at The Oval.
Jack Lamason, a keen supporter of Ina’s sporting career, died suddenly in June 1961. The couple had no children and early in 1962 Ina moved to Auckland. She had been employed as a clerical worker and secretary in Wellington and in Auckland she worked as a secretary for Wallace and Webb Limited, a sports specialist firm, until at least 1979. Lamason had intended retiring from sport when she moved to Auckland, but her friend Dorothy Simons asked her to help set up a women’s cricket association on the North Shore. In the 1963–64 season she appeared for North Shore against the second team of her old province, Wellington. She successfully managed the new association’s senior team to first division status in the 1964–65 season and was still turning out at club level in her late 50s.
For many years Lamason was also involved in hockey umpiring and cricket administration. In 1958 she became a national cricket selector, a position she retained until 1976. She also served on the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council for several years. She managed the New Zealand team to Australia in 1956–57, was assistant manager of the 1966 team to England, and manager of the New Zealand team that contested the first women’s world cup in England in 1973. In the 1970s she became involved in the establishment of the North Shore Women’s Hockey Association. She also turned her hand to sporting journalism, writing reports and articles for the Sports Post , the New Zealand Herald and the English magazine Women’s Cricket .
In 1989 Lamason was made an MBE for her services to cricket and hockey. She was also awarded life memberships by several of the organisations she had served so diligently. Despite suffering from coronary artery disease for many years, she remained keenly interested in sport until the last. She died in Takapuna on 30 April 1994, two days short of her 82nd birthday.