women have played the game for just as long as men...
Cricket has traditionally been seen as a “male” sport, despite the fact that women have played the game for just as long as men.
In 1963, England captain Len Hutton famously said during a charity match against a women’s side that women playing cricket was “absurd, like a man trying to knit” (the women went on to win the match). Views like Hutton’s were once common, which has meant that women have often been absent from official histories of the game.
This exhibition aims to help correct that absence by documenting some of the many examples of women’s contribution to cricket, and by tracking the history of their participation. In 2018, MCC acquired the archive of the Women’s Cricket Association, which has helped to inform the displays seen here.
It is impossible in one exhibition to highlight every single one of women’s achievements in cricket. There are many gaps here: the lack of non-white women is one such gap. This is obviously problematic, and reflects that women’s cricket in England has historically been a very white (and middle-class) sport, though globally there has been more diversity.
There is still a long way to go before women’s cricket can be seen to be on an equal footing with the men’s game. Women’s cricket still receives less media coverage, the England players are paid less than the England men’s team, and since ECB took over running the sport, men now hugely outnumber women in umpiring, coaching and governance roles.
However, this exhibition also celebrates that women have travelled a long way since the first recorded match in 1745. It is hoped that making the history of women’s cricket more visible will help pave the way to a brighter future for the sport.
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