Molly Hide
Past Players 9 of 10

9. Molly Hide

Born 24 October 1913, Shanghai, China
Died 10 September 1995, Milford, Surrey

Mary "Molly" Edith Hide was born in China. She came to England - to Haslemere in Surrey - at the age of 6. She learnt cricket first at school at Wycombe Abbey, under the coaching of a Mr Britnell. It is said that, even as a schoolgirl, she wanted to understand all aspects of the game, and this went so far as to include help in preparing the pitch beforehand. She became a member of the Women's Cricket Association (WCA) at the age of 16 in 1929. She was able to continue cricket while studying agriculture at Reading University.

Molly also played lacrosse for England, but it is as a cricketer that she is renowned.

Hide was something of an all-rounder - a quick-scoring batsman, medium-paced bowler of off-spin, and fine fielder. Molly appeared in representative matches at Worcester in 1932 and 1933. She played for an England team against "The Rest" in 1933, at Leicester, in a game that foreshadowed Test cricket for women.

In 1934, she toured Australia and New Zealand with Betty Archdale's England team, batting at number three. In the opening game against West Australia at the Oval, Perth, Hide made a century. Then she played in the first ever women's Test in Brisbane in December 1934. Her highest score on this tour was a century at Christchurch against New Zealand, where she built a record partnership of 235 with Betty Snowball, and England won by 337 runs.

In 1936 she captained the South of England side against England, at Hove. The following year, only in her early 20s, she was appointed England captain, a position she was to hold for 17 years until 1954.

England won the first series under her captaincy, against Australia, in 1937. This included a victory in the 2nd Test at Blackpool. Requiring 152 to win from their 2nd innings, Australia were bowled out to lose by 25 runs. With her off-spinners, Molly took 4 wickets for 6 runs to mop up the tail, giving her match figures of 8 wickets for 58 runs.

The war years saw her helping on her father's 200 acre farm, Lower Roundhurst, at Haslemere, and there would be an 11 year gap between Test series.

England toured Australia and New Zealand in 1948-49, captained by Molly. They lost the only completed Test match in Australia, but Molly scored over 1000 runs on the tour, including 5 centuries. Molly finished the series with a batting average in the Tests of 57.00 and bowling average of 22.00 (6 wickets for 132 runs). The 3rd Test at Sydney was drawn, with England 205 for 4 in their 2nd innings and Molly undefeated on 124. Her innings was seen by Neville Cardus, who likened her play to Denis Compton, whilst for [old Mr] Farrar she was comparable to Victor Trumper!

The Sydney Cricket Ground Trust asked for a photograph which they proposed to hang in the pavilion, the first woman to be so honoured.

Eight matches were played in New Zealand, of which six, including the Test, were won.

The team were welcomed by 400 speeches over the Tour, with Molly and the team manager replying with 84 apiece. Indeed, receptions played an important part in the early tours. In an article written by Molly, she notes:

"In Perth,.... we were invited to morning tea at Parliament House and were highly honoured as the prime minister was present as well as many of the members."

She captained England again in a home series against Australia in 1951, but missed the first two Tests through injury. She came back for the 3rd Test, with England one down, despite not being fully fit. She scored 65 and 42, the highest individual contribution, and England won by 137 runs.

Molly announced that 1954 would be her last in first-class cricket. She captained England for the last time against New Zealand at the Oval in July 1954, taking the series 1-0.

In 20 years as an international player, Molly played 15 Tests, scoring 872 runs at an average of 36.33, and taking 36 wickets at 15.25.

In Martineau's opinion "there has been no better batsman" - always keen to get on top of the bowling, she had a particularly strong on-drive. Her bowling was strong, perhaps held back from developing further by the fact that she was captain. Her captaincy of Surrey and England, according to Netta Rheinberg, writing in 1976, reached a maturity in the years after the war which has not been surpassed. She was renowned for the tough approach she took, setting high standards and always expecting the best. Some found this difficult, but for most she was an inspiration, and they loved that on the field she was always looking to be on the attack.

When she finished playing, she continued as an important and influential figure in the game - as a selector for county and country, as occasional team manager, and as President of the WCA from 1973. In this role, she steered the WCA through a World Cup. Twenty years later, when England won the 1993 World Cup, she was guest of honour at Lord's.

She helped put on the first exhibition devoted to women's cricket, at the Qantas Airways Gallery in Piccadilly, during the 1963 visit of the Australian women's team. This included costumes, photographs, tour trophies and souvenirs - and the blue cricket ball for lady cricketers, made by Alfred Reader at the request of Gamages in 1897, for fear they might swoon at the sight of a red ball! Unlike Molly's reputation, the blue ball did not last, it being found that the colour could not be picked up against the grass and sky.

Never, as far as we can tell a member, Molly was clearly a friend of Mitcham Cricket Club. She played on the Green a number of times, brought teams to play there, and wrote articles for the Yearbook. Indeed, one of these is devoted to women's cricket at Mitcham. Proceeds from many of these games on the Green went to the Women's Cricket Association. But in July 1939 Molly also played for Surrey against Hertfordshire. and District in a game at Mitcham with the proceeds going to Mitcham Club funds - she retired on 54 in a total of 137 (Hertfordshire made 57). About 2,000 spectators ringed the Green.

Molly Hide was, in the words of Netta Rheinberg, the personification of women's cricket, doing an immense amount to give the game credibility.

Miss M.Hide - former Roedean scholar - has a free and beautiful style with the bat. Slightly taller than the average, ... her best stroke is the drive past cover, which she executes with an excellence of timing quite remarkable in a woman. One of these (during her innings of 64) flew like lightning over cover point's head. Usually, however, her drives skim the grass, for - like all ladies, strange to say - she seldom lifts the ball.

Miss Hide has just added to her triumphs the feat of scoring a century before lunch, on the first day; reaching 105 in 95 minutes against the Australian Touring Team at Hove. She hit 18 fours in her 145.