Australian Women's Team
Australians on the Green 1 of 3

1. Australian Women's Team


... the final match of the tour, at Mitcham Green, saw a huge gathering of 10,000 spectators- not including "prams, dogs, small children, ice-cream men, and bikes"! - the record attendance in 250 years on the world's oldest cricket ground. Such was the farewell given by the public to the Australian lady cricketers- a grand finale, and cricket at its best!


One of the happiest memories I treasure of women's cricket is that day in 1937 when the Surrey W.C.A. Took on the Australian Women on Mitcham Green. The game - with a fiercely close finish - was a perfect ending to what had been a perfect season. Perfect in so many ways. The weather throughout had been good. The Australian women, here for the first time, had shown us cricket we had never dreamed of, and yet all the while our English players seemed to get better and better.

Mitcham Green that day in 1937 was a picture and an experience. I wandered among the thousands of spectators, prams, and bikes. I deliberately listened to conversations. I had a reason.

In1927, just ten years earlier, a few of us - so very few- had started the Women's Cricket Association. We had been ridiculed. We had been told, "You will never play like men." That was a crowning insult, because strangely enough we never wanted to play like men, we always believed and hoped that we could evolve a style and a method of our own - different from men, but none the less efficient and none the less graceful.

We rather struggled in those ten years. Yet, we had been admitted to several County Cricket Grounds, to Old Trafford and the Oval, and Trent Bridge. We had sent a team to Australia (1934) and they had carried all before them. We had increased the Association in scope, in numbers and in influence. In 1937, after raising over £1000, by all the known and unknown means at the disposal of club players, we had with us this fine Australian Women's Team. That was our record of ten years, and I realise now that we had moved fast. That we had built our Association well and that perhaps I was justified in eavesdropping among that friendly, enthusiastic crowd that day at Mitcham.

What did I hear? Surprisingly enough there was no silly surprise at the standard of play. There was no excusing anybody because they were only women. The game was taken on its merits; we were taken for granted as cricketers. I got the answer I wanted to my questioning - Women's Cricket had arrived.

But where are we now? The war knocked women's cricket all end wise. Cricket is a game that thrives on graciousness, leisure and courtesy. These three ingredients of a good life were not in abundant supply during the last few years. So when we took stock in 1945-- we discovered we were just about where we were in 1927. But were we? We had much experience, we had knowledge of standards required, and also, and this I think is of the utmost importance, we had the good will of friends in such places as Mitcham, the Oval, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and so on and so on. We had not to fight to establish ourselves, we had got to produce the standard of play that warranted re-establishment.

In 1947 we are faced with a grand programme and in the autumn a team will go to Australia again. There will be no difficulty about getting the players - the keenness and enthusiasm have to be seen to be realised.

Also - we shall return to Mitcham this summer and that in itself is part of our re-establishment and certainly a match which is being approached with joy.

So this season is the 21st of organised women's cricket in this country. I am old enough to sit back now and say, "Ah, - cricket's not what it was and never will be" - but I'd be lying if I said that. Cricket for women is better than it was, and will be a lot better still. I am glad I was one of the pioneers.


(Extract from "The Cricketer" 4 September 1948)

We have found the greatest kindness and interest everywhere but our favourite ground is surely Mitcham Green, where Surrey usually play Middlesex or a Women's Cricket Association XI. The spectators here are so appreciative of a good stroke or piece of fielding, and so critical of a bad one, that we are always encouraged to give of our best from the moment we arrive and see them waiting for the game, sometimes an hour before it is due to start.


(Article in Mitcham Cricket Club Yearbook, 1956)

The first time a women's cricket match was played on Mitcham Green was in 1936 when a team under the title of the 1934 Touring Team and Others beat Miss M Pollard's XI by 70 runs. Since then this historic Green has been one of the favourite grounds of Surrey women cricketers for it is ideal for women's cricket, being spacious yet homely, with an excellent wicket and outfield and any team can be assured of an enthusiastic and well-informed crowd of spectators.

Surrey Women's Cricket Association has battled on the Green twelve times having won five of these matches and lost only once.

In 1937 and 1951, Mitcham welcomed an overseas team from Australia, who played Surrey on both occasions. Some of the thousands of spectators who watched these two matches will well remember how in 1937 Australia won an exciting match with the last ball by 103 runs and how in 1951 Surrey took the chief honours in a drawn game.

Well-known English women cricketers who have played on the Green, and given much pleasure to spectators are Marjorie Pollard, whose voice is now often heard in sports commentaries on the BBC, Betty Snowball, the finest wicket-keeper England has yet produced who played a grand innings of 83 in the first match on the Green in 1936, and Myrtle Maclagan who made some useful scores and took many wickets in the several occasions on which she appeared at Mitcham.

Women's cricket is at its strongest in the South, and Surrey has been fortunate to field throughout the years one of the strongest county teams. The reason for this is due to the fact that most of the 1st XI have graduated through what might be called the Surrey Nursery, which is the Junior County XI comprised of schoolgirls and the County 2nd XI. Schoolgirl cricket has always been one of the liveliest activities in the Surrey organisation. It is nor surprising therefore that England XIs and English Touring Teams have contained a good nucleus of Surrey players.

With regard to overseas tours the Women's Cricket Association sent a Touring Team to Australia and New Zealand in the Winters of 1934/35 and 1948/49 and have accepted a further invitation to send another team in 1957/58.

Return visits have been made by the Australians in 1937 and 1951 and by a New Zealand team in 1954. For financial reasons it is not possible for these tours to be arranged at more frequent intervals. The arrangement has always been for members of the visiting team to pay their own passage but they are guests of the hostess country during their stay overseas. All profits from such tours are retained by the organising country.

As will be realised therefore much depends on the weather for the success of such a tour and although the a Women's Cricket Association made a satisfactory profit from both the Australian visits, there was a heavy loss after the New Zealand visit in 1954. When sending a Touring Team abroad it is always necessary to launch an appeal for funds to help players with their fares as it is the aim of the Women's Cricket Association to send the best possible team regardless of players' means. No professional women's cricket is played and the Association is run entirely voluntarily. It may be of interest here to point out that there are some 200 clubs and 100 schools in England and Wales affiliated to the Association.

Mitcham Cricket Club has helped generously in the past towards the money-raising efforts of the Women's Cricket Association and next season once again they have most kindly offered the Green for a match in aid of the 1957 Tour Fund. This will take place on Wednesday, June 13th, when Surrey and Middlesex will oppose each other. This will give supporters of women's cricket an opportunity of seeing in action some of the likely players to go on the forthcoming tour.

Top ranking players in the Middlesex team are Mary Duggan and Betty Birch both of whom were members of the 1948/49 a Touring Team. Mary Duggan is probably the best known for her left arm swing bowling though on a responsive wicket she can turn the ball as well, but both she an Betty Birch are useful bats. Two of the Surrey players who are making their name are Helene Hegarty, a useful fast bowler, and Shirley Driscoll, one of the youngest and most promising opening bats in the Association today.


(Article in Mitcham Cricket Club Yearbook 1963)

All Surrey women cricketers will be looking forward eagerly to Wednesday, July 31, when the Australian Women's touring team will be playing the County at Mitcham. This will be the third time that an Australian team has played on the Green, the first being in 1937 when Surrey were beaten and the second in 1951 when Surrey took the honours in a drawn game.

What will be the result this year? ....

At present the 1963 Surrey XI has not been selected, but it will probably be much the same as last season when it had four members of the 1958 English touring team to Australia. ....

The County have always endeavoured to play enterprising cricket and to achieve a definite result and provided both teams have the same approach on July 31st, then an entertaining match should be assured.