September 9, 2011
A brief History of Women’s Cricket

by Patmos Richards Fri, Sept 09. 2011

With the recently concluded 20/20 women’s cricket tournament between Pakistan and the West Indies in which the West Indies mauled their opponents to clench the series 3-1 at the colorful Arnos Vale playing field,{{more}} I saw it as a timely gesture to provide cricket lovers and the women’s cricket fraternity in particular with some brief historical insight on women’s cricket.

Cricket, as we all know, is essentially an English ball game. Most, or better put, all of the anecdotes are of English origin. The first record of a women’s cricket match dates from 1745, at Gosden Common, near Guildford in Surrey. The latter is the home of Bramley Cricket Club. Legend has it that the 11 maids of Hambleton defeated the 11 maids of Bramley by 127 notches to 119. As a mark of respect for that historic ground in Surrey, the English women’s Cricket Association in 1986 celebrated their Diamond Jubilee by playing a match on that same ground.

Although, traditionally, cricket may be considered a man’s game, there is absolutely no doubt that women have had an imperishable effect upon it. For example, the development of overarm bowling under the revised laws adopted by the M.C.C. in 1835 is credited to a woman.

This woman, whose name is Christina Willes, had great difficulty bowling underarm to her brother John in the barn at their home near Canterbury because of her voluminous skirt; she found a solution by bowling round-arm.

John saw merit in this innovative bowling style and believed that it could be a positive turning point in cricket. However, this bowling discovery in 1814 wasn’t accepted by the cricketing authorities until 21 years after in 1835.

The women’s game gained popularity coming to the end of the 19th century, with the first women’s club, the white Heather Club being established in 1887 on Nun Appleton in Yorkshire with membership surpassing fifty-four years later.

White Heather Club continued to exist until 1950. Its early cricket score was lodged in the cricket gallery at the Histone Lord’s Cricket ground. By 1926, nearly 200 years after the first women’s cricket match, a decision was made by the relevant authorities to establish the game on a sound footing with the creation of an association.

Women who previously played La Crosse and Hockey in the winter were now resorting to cricket as their summer sport.

In 1929, the first public match was played between London and District and the rest of England at Buckingham. It received incredible promotion in the press, and this was an encouragement for women to take up the game competitively.

In addition, this publicity and exposure in the press, led to women taking the game seriously. Subsequently, men’s county grounds opened their doors to women’s games three years later in 1932.

In conclusion, the writer would like to congratulate the local associations, both male and female, in working along and forging a viable partnership with the West Indies Cricket board in bringing the rivalry between Pakistan’s women cricket team and the West Indies women cricket team to a successful conclusion last Saturday 3rd at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.