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Women's cricket archive

Women's cricket archive

With the Women's World T20 starting on Friday, MCC Archivist Rob Curphey takes a look into the archive to discover material relating to women's cricket. 

For this blog I am going to talk about a recent acquisition that came to us over the summer; an archive of material relating to women’s cricket, previously held at the Somerset Cricket Museum.

For the past three months I have enjoyed cataloguing this archive, which was made up of a collection of items that had been compiled over the years from various individuals involved in administering women’s cricket over the years, such as Netta Rheinberg, Sylvia Swinburne and Liz Riley, as well as several donations from famous women’s cricketers such as Myrtle Maclagan, Molly Hide and Enid Bakewell.

The collection consists of scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper cuttings, minutes, administrative papers, and scorebooks and scorecards, all of which help to tell the history of women’s cricket and the work of the Women’s Cricket Association.

The highlight of the collection was undoubtedly the scrapbooks; 91 were included within the collection, all of which relate to the history of women’s cricket, tours, competitions and issues faced by the Women’s Cricket Association during the years.

An example of which is a scrapbook of items relating to the Australia Women tour of England in 1976, compiled by Sylvia Swinburne, former Chairwomen of the Women’s Cricket Association.

The scrapbook includes photographs of the team arriving at Heathrow Airport and attending a reception at The Hurlingham Club, an invitation card for the Australian team to meet Margaret Thatcher, a photograph of Thatcher with the England captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint and the Australian captain Anne Gordon.

It also includes photographs of the Australian team practicing at Lord’s, photographs of matches at Lord’s (which England won by 8 wickets) and the Oval (the Final Test of a series that finished 0-0), and photographs of the Australian team’s visit to meet the High Commissioner of Australia in August 1976.

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Scrapbook relating to the Australian Women's Tour of England in 1976

 The collection contains a dozen scrapbooks of items and photographs from the first England Women’s tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1934-1935 alone, compiled by England team members Molly Hide, Doris Turner, Betty Snowball and Joy Partridge, which will prove a great accompaniment to our existing holdings of scrapbooks from that tour, which were compiled by Betty Archdale and Myrtle Maclagan (both of which were placed on display in the Museum this summer as part of our tours exhibition).

Another interesting artefact within the collection is a diary for the England Women’s team which toured Australia in 1984-1985, compiled by each member of the England team.

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Scorecard for first women's ODI at Lord's, between ENG and Aus in 1976

Each member of the team had to take it in turns to write two days of diary entries at a time, and reported on matches and social activities.

The diaries tell us that the team members and manager Norma Izard had some interesting nicknames, which they had to use while on tour or they would be fined 10 cents. These include Strappy, Sooty, Sweep, Chin-Chin and Cilla! Cataloguing the Women’s Cricket Archive has enabled us to gain a greater amount of material relating not just to tours but competitions also, such as the annual cricket week held in Colwall, through to the European Cup competitions held in and World Cups.

Arguably the most significant item within this collection is a notebook of inaugural meeting minutes of the Women’s Cricket Association, compiled by Vera Cox, the first Secretary of the Women’s Cricket Association.

This includes minutes of the first meeting to form the association at Buckingham Gate in Victoria in October 1926, the decision to select Mrs Patricia Heron Maxwell as chairman at that same meeting, and minutes of the inaugural Annual General Meeting held in October 1927.

As well as containing a complete set of minutes of the Women’s Cricket Association from 1926-1996, the collection also holds minutes from other Women’s Cricket Associations including Surrey, Middlesex and Kent.

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Minutes of the first meeting to form a Women's Cricket Association, 1926

MCC plans to have items from this collection on display in 2020, as part of a wider exhibition on the history of Women’s Cricket for the 2020 season in the MCC Museum.


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