Women's cricket in Australia

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Women's cricket in Australia
Test cricket - women - 1935.jpg
Women's Test Cricket. Anne Palmer (NSW) bowled, with Spear, Snowball and Partridge (England), 2nd Women's Test match in Sydney 1935.
Country Australia
Governing body Cricket Australia
National team Australia

While not being urged to avoid competition, women had few opportunities to compete in sport in Australia until the 1880s. After that date, new sporting facilities were being built around the country and many new sport clubs were created.[1]

Early History[edit]

Photograph of Miss Lily Poulett-Harris, founding mother of women's cricket in Australia.

The founding mother of women's cricket in Australia was the young Tasmanian, Lily Poulett-Harris, who captained the Oyster Cove team in the league she created in 1894. Lily's obituary, from her death a few years later in 1897, states that her team was almost certainly the first to be formed in the colonies [1].

During the 1890s, cricket and rowing two of the most popular competitive sports for women in Australia.[1] Another of the first all women's sport clubs founded in Australia was the Rockhampton Ladies' Club. They were fielding a women's cricket team in the mid-1890s. The team wore dresses with long skirts and long sleeves, sashes attached to their uniform, tight belts and straw boater hats.[2]

Early Twentieth Century[edit]

One location where cricket was being played was Bundaberg, where a ladies' town team had been established that was competing until as late as 1909. Cricket players, like other female athletes of this era, dressed in ankle length skirts, wore long sleeved blouses, and wore a hat and tie. The uniforms made it difficult to play as they did not allow a full range of movement.[3] Another place where women played cricket on an all women's team was in Memerambi, a Queensland town that is to the southwest of Maryborough. In 1911, this team had several notable players including A. B. Postle who was the sister of the current world champion sprinter. By 1911, the skirts had changed to include fewer layers and allowed for greater movement of the legs. This improvement was offset by the need to wear wide brimmed hats.[1]

The Victoria Women's Cricket Association was founded in 1905 and the Australian Women's Cricket Association in 1931.

During the early part of the twentieth century, small towns in rural areas often lacked enough male players to have a full team. This problem was solved by allowing for mixed gendered teams. One town with a mixed gendered team was found in Croydon[where?] at the Croydon Villa Cricket Club.[4] The lack of players was also a problem in the bush. Mixed gendered teams were created as part of informal games at locations such as the Cooroy Showgrounds.[5] By the 1920s, women were playing cricket in outfits similar to men: Long white trousers, white sweaters and blouses. Batters had pads for their shins. The hats had smaller brims and were more fitted to their heads. This change in outfits allowed women a greater range of movement when they played the game. A female cricket team active during the 1920s was found in Toowoomba.[6]

In 1922, a committee in Australia investigated the benefits of physical education for girls. They came up with several recommendations regarding what sports were and were not appropriate for girls to play based on the level of fitness required. It was determined that for some individual girls that for medical reasons, the girls should probably not be allowed to participate in tennis, netball, lacrosse, golf, hockey, and cricket. Soccer was completely medically inappropriate for girls to play. It was medically appropriate for all girls to be able to participate in, so long as they were not done in an overly competitive manner, swimming, rowing, cycling and horseback riding.[7]

In 1933, the New South Wales Amateur Women's Sport Council was created by Gwendolen Game. The organisation brought together all the women's sporting bodies on the state level. Sports represented included New South Wales's women's field hockey, cricket, women's basketball, baseball, rowing and vigoro. A similar organisation covering similar sports had been created in Victoria in 1931.[8]

In 1934, the Victorian Women's Centennial Sports Carnival was held. The event was organised by the Victorian Women's Amateur Sports Council and held at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds. The purpose was to increase women's interest in sport by providing them opportunities to play. Sports that were included on the programme included cricket, field hockey, women's basketball, bowls, rowing, swimming, athletics, rifle shooting, baseball, golf, tennis and badminton. There were over 1,000 bowlers involved over the course a week. Cricket featured a match versus a visiting English side. Women's basketball featured a Victorian side playing against a representative all Australian side. There was a day for watersports such as swimming and rowing. A tennis tournament was held. A field hockey tournament featuring Australian, Kiwi and Fijian teams was played.[8]

In 1986, Lyn Larsen, at the age of 22, became the youngest captain ever of the Australian women's national cricket team. In 1988, the Australian women won the Cricket World Cup.[9]

In 1940, a study of 314 women in New Zealand and Australia was done. Most of the women in the study were middle class, conservative, Protestant and white. The study found that 183 participated in sport. The nineteenth most popular sport that these women participated in was cricket, with 2 having played the sport. The sport was tied with cricket, mountaineering, rowing, and surfing.[10]

Australian women's sports had an advantage over many other women's sport organisations around the world in the period after World War II. Women's sport organisations had largely remained intact and were holding competitions during the war period. This structure survived in the post war period. Women's sport were not hurt because of food rationing, petrol rationing, population disbursement, and other issues facing post-war Europe.[11]

Twenty-First Century[edit]

The current 50-over limited-over domestic tournament for Women in Australia is the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL). The competition has been held since the 1996-97 season. [12] The league currently consists of eight teams: New South Wales Breakers, Queensland Fire, South Australian Scorpions, Tasmanian Roar, Victorian Spirit, Western Fury and ACT Meteors. [13]

The 2013-2014 Australian National Cricket Census showed that female participation in the sport was up 39% to 247,000, with females making up 22% of total cricket participants in Australia. [14]

A new Female Twenty20 league, the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL), is set to be aligned with the Mens Big Bash League (BBL) for the 2015-2016 season. It has been announced that eight women's teams will align with the existing men’s BBL teams: Perth Scorchers (WBBL), Hobart Hurricanes (WBBL), Brisbane Heat (WBBL), Adelaide Strikers (WBBL), Melbourne Stars (WBBL), Melbourne Renegades (WBBL), Sydney Sixers (WBBL) and Sydney Thunder (WBBL). The eight WBBL clubs will adopt the same team name and colours as their male counterparts. [15]

Important current day ambassadors for women's cricket in Australia include Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Alex Blackwell and Alyssa Healy.[16]

The Ashes[edit]

The first ashes game, occurred in 1934. When the AWCC (Australian Women’s Cricket Council) sent an invitation to the WCA (Women’s Cricket Association), inviting England to tour in Australia. The tour consisted of 14, 3-day test matches, in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.[17][18] The first game being was played in Brisbane with a crowd of 1,500. England won the game by 9 wickets after a stunning performance from England’s spinning allrounder Myrtle Maclagan who took 7 wickets for 10 runs.[19]

International Short-Form Competition[edit]

Not only do Australian women compete in cricket domestically, but also on the international stage. The Australian Women's Cricket Team (The Southern Stars) have competed at an international level in the short forms of the game since the first World Cup in 1973, in England.[20] They won their first world cup in 1978 and then claiming the title on another five occasions in 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005 and 2013.[21]

Since their first match in the 1973 World Cup the Southern Stars have played 254 ODIs (One Day Internationals), having 122 women represent Australia in the ODI team.[22]

Another short form of the game that the Stars are very competitive in is the Twenty20 competition. The Australian Women's Team have taken home the top trophy for the past three consecutive years at the Women's Twenty20 World Cup.[23] And resulting from their efforts this the Southern Stars received a pay rise making them the highest paid women's sporting team in Australia.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 84
  2. ^ Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 86
  3. ^ Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 44
  4. ^ Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 46
  5. ^ Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 100
  6. ^ Howell, Howell & Brown 1989, p. 88
  7. ^ Evening Post 1922, p. 19
  8. ^ a b Stell 1991, p. 59
  9. ^ Australia's wide world of sports. Pymble, N.S.W.: Angus & Robertson. 1993. p. 155. ISBN 0-207-17485-7. OCLC 38340671. 
  10. ^ Stell 1991, p. 75
  11. ^ Stell 1991, p. 100
  12. ^ "Women's Cricket in Australia - National League and Competitions". southernstars.org.au. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Women's National Cricket League". cricket.com.au. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "National participation hits one million". cricket.com.au. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  15. ^ Allan, Dan. "Eight teams announced for Women's BBL". cricket.com.au. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Allan, Dan. "Eight teams announced for Women's BBL". cricket.com.au. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Wicket Women -Cricket and Women in Australia. NSW: NSW University Press. 1991. 
  18. ^ Velija, Philippa (8 November 2012). "A maiden over: a socio-historical analysis of the Women's Ashes". Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. 15 (8): 1121. doi:10.1080/17430437.2012.730696. 
  19. ^ Isabelle, Duncan (9 August 2013). "A history of Women's Ashes". All Out Cricket. 
  20. ^ Wilson, Georgia (8 March 2015). "Howzat: Showcasing 140 years of female cricketing history in Australia". 
  21. ^ Wilson, Georgia (8 March 2015). "Howzat: Showcasing 140 years of female cricketing history in Australia". 
  22. ^ "Women's Cricket in Australia - All 'n Sundry Stats". 
  23. ^ Wu, Andrew (10 April 2014). "Stars hail pay rise for helping them to world title". The Age. 
  24. ^ Wu, Andrew (10 April 2014). "Stars hail pay rise for helping them to world title". The Age. 


  • Evening Post (19 December 1922). "Women in Print". Evening Post. CC (147). New Zealand: National Library of New Zealand. p. 7. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  • Howell, Max; Howell, Reet; Brown, David W. (1989). The Sporting Image, A pictorial history of Queenslanders at play. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 0-7022-2206-2. 
  • Stell, Marion K. (1991). Half the Race, A history of Australian women in sport. North Ryde, Australia: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-207-16971-3.