The first known example of women’s cricket is from 1745, when a match between women from Bramley and women from Hambledon took place near Guildford. When know about this match since The Reading Mercury wrote about it on 26 July 1746.
“The greatest cricket match that was played in this part of England was on Friday, the 26th of last month, on Gosden Common, near Guildford, between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white. The Bramley maids had blue ribbons and the Hambledon maids red ribbons on their heads. The Bramley girls got 119 notches and the Hambledon girls 127. There was of bothe sexes the greatest number that ever was seen on such an occasion. The girls bowled, batted, ran and catches as well as most men could do in that game.” – The Mercury
Women’s cricket in the 20th and 21st century
The first official international women’s Test match took place in December 1934, between England and Australia. The three-day contest, held in Brisbane, was won by England by nine wickets.
The first Women’s Cricket World Cup was played in England in 1973, which is two years earlier than the first Men’s Cricket World Cup. 1973 also marked the beginning of women’s One Day Internationals (ODIs). In 1979, Lord’s Cricket Ground had its first women’s Test match, between England and Australia.
Women’s Twenty20 cricket was introduced in 2004, but initially failed to gain any international momentum. By the end of the 2000s, this had changed and women’s Twenty20 cricket is today growing increasingly popular around the globe. The first ICC Women’s World Twenty20 was hosted by England in 2009.
Women’s Test cricket
There are currently ten national women’s teams for Test cricket. The three teams that have had Test status for the longest period of time all played Test matches when England’s team toured Australia and New Zealand in 1934-35.
The South African team joined in 1960, but was later suspended due to the nation’s policy of apartheid, before re-joining again after the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa.
Indian and the West Indies both achieved Test status in 1976, followed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1998. Ireland made the list in the year 2000, while the most recent addition is the Netherlands (2007).
|Team||Year of first Test match|
The early years of women’s cricket
As mentioned above, the first known women’s cricket match took place in near Guildford, England in 1745. Another instance of an early women’s cricket match that made it into history was the one played at the Artillery Ground on 13 July 1747. When know about this one because the match, which was between a team from Charlton and another from Westdean and Chilgrove in Sussex, was interrupted by a rowdy crowd.
According to contemporary records from this era, it wasn’t uncommon for large crowds to gather to watch women’s cricket matches, and betting on the matches was very popular. Sometimes a team of married women would play against a team of unmarried women. The winning team could be awarded with prizes, anything from barrels of ale to lace gloves.
The first women’s cricket county match took place between Surrey and Hampshire in 1811. The game was played at Ball’s Pond in Middlesex, with two noblemen underwriting the match with 1,000 guineas.
The White Heather Club, the first known cricket club for women, was founded in Yorkshire in 1887. In 1926, the Women’s Cricket Association was created and this organisation remained responsible for the running of women’s cricket in England up until 1998. Until 1958 it also managed international women’s cricket since there was no international association for women’s cricket until then.
In 1894, a young Tasmanian woman named Lily Poulett-Harris founded a women’s cricket league and also participated in it herself as captain of the Oyster Cove team. She died a few years later, but her legacy lived on and in 1905 the Victoria Women’s Cricket Association was founded, followed by the Australian Women’s Cricket Association in 1931.
Australian cricket player Betty Wilson was the first person, male or female, to record a century and ten wickets in a Test match. She carried out this feat in the 1958 St Kilda Test match between Australia and England. On a wet wicket, she took 7/7 in the first innings, an achievement that no cricket player managed to repeat until Pakistan’s Shaiza Khan did it in 2004.
The first known women’s cricket team in South Africa was the Pioneers Cricket Club, based in Port Elizabeth. Exactly when the team was formed, or who they played against, remains unknown, but we do know that the team was active as early as 1902.
International women’s cricket
The International Women’s Cricket Council was founded in 1958 to coordinate women’s cricket globally. At this point, women’s cricket was played regularly in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, the Netherlands and Denmark. Until 1958, global cricket was co-ordinated by Women’s Cricket Association in England.
The International Women’s Cricket Council does no longer exist as a separate entity since it has become a part of the unified International Cricket Council (ICC).