In the second part of our feature on the 20 most influential figures in women’s cricket, AOC’s Ed Kemp and crickether.com‘s Syd Egan and Raf Nicholson profile six more heroes of the English game.
Not only do broadcasters and commentators not have to be ex-players, they don’t have to be men either! The BBC’s Alison Mitchell has been proving this for years across a range of sports both mixed, men’s and women’s, and, in light of her active work on behalf of Chance to Shine’s ‘Girls on the Front Foot’ campaign to stimulate female participation in schools and beyond, the most unflappable voice of women’s cricket can be viewed as activist and inspiration as well as conduit. EK
Marion Collin is a legend in women’s cricket across the world, and it is all thanks to her work with statistics. She took early retirement from her job in local government in 1993, and became the first-ever official International Women’s Cricket Council statistician the following year. The job involved entering records of all international women’s matches (the first of which took place in 1934) into a computer database. She has kept records of all matches since then, and is now the ICC’s honorary statistician for women’s cricket.
Collin played for the famous women’s club Redoubtables WCC in Surrey for 35 years, serving on the club committee for many years, including a stint as chairman. A qualified umpire and scorer, she has officiated in countless club games, as well as in four Tests and several ODIs. Yet perhaps her main contribution to women’s club cricket has been as the keeper of records. When she joined Redoubtables, the then-Women’s Cricket Association statistician, Margaret Dickens, belonged to the club; she began to help her compile records and averages, for club cricket as well as for county and England matches. She took over the role herself after the 1973 World Cup. This work was all done manually, painstakingly, for many years – and without it, we would probably have no record at all of domestic women’s cricket. She can be found at all Berkshire and England matches, scoring, making sure all records are up to date – she currently collects all score sheets and compiles the points for the ECB’s Women’s County Championship – and keeping journalists on their toes with her incredible recall of statistical records in the women’s game. RN
With the drive to increase media coverage paramount, the introduction of Beth Wild – a former county cricketer herself with experience in the media and passion for the game – as ECB’s women’s cricket press officer in late 2013 was a step in the right direction, giving journalists increased access to the players – all of whom have been keen to get their message and personalities across. Wild’s significance will only increase as the fight for equal attention develops in the coming years. EK
It is not without reason that Norma Izard was recently awarded an OBE for her services to women’s cricket. One of the first-ever female members of the MCC, she is currently a trustee for Chance to Shine, and she has also been chairman of the Women’s Cricket Associates since its inception in 1999. The Associates provides an arena for present and past women cricketers, officials and administrators, and they have done invaluable work in documenting the sport’s history in the pre-ECB era with their website womenscrickethistory.org.
Norma herself has devoted much of her life to women’s cricket. She first played the sport in 1948 at school in Beckenham and went on to represent Kent for over two decades. More recently, she served as England manager between 1984 and 1994 – the longest-serving manager of England ever, overseeing 12 international tours, culminating in England’s 1993 World Cup victory at home. She was also the last-ever president of the Women’s Cricket Association, serving for four years before handing over the reins to the ECB in 1998. And this was all done purely for love of the game, with no money involved. RN
Having stumbled by chance on the 1993 World Cup semi-final between England and Australia Women at Guildford, Don Miles has followed the England team ever since – most recently on their February 2015 tour to New Zealand.
As the chairman of Sussex Women’s Cricket Association, Don is the lynchpin of the most professionally run county in the women’s game; but it is as the webmaster of womenscricket.net that Don secures his place on this list, having chronicled and photographed the women’s game longer than many of the current England team have been alive. Though now nearing the sort of age when most are happy to seek a quiet armchair by the fire, Don’s dedication to the game remains unwavering. SE
Rachael Heyhoe Flint
Ask someone to name a female cricketer from history and they will almost certainly name “Heyhoe”. Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s tireless efforts to promote women’s cricket since the 1960s, both as player and campaigner, recently saw her appointed to the House of Lords, and she continues to support women’s cricket both within the House and in her role on the MCC committee.
It was Rachael herself who spearheaded the campaign for female membership of the MCC during the 1990s, a cause which was finally successful in 1998. Naturally Rachael became one of the first female members, and there is even speculation that she might soon create further waves by becoming the first-ever female MCC president.
Representing England between 1960 and 1982, she was captain for 11 of those years and during that time did not lose a single Test. Known for her quick-hitting, in 1963 she hit the first-ever six in a women’s Test match, with a shot which she describes as a “hoick to leg”. Her best innings, though, was a mammoth 179 against the Australians at the Oval in 1976, which saw her remain at the crease for more than eight-and- a-half hours to save the Test for her team.
Her efforts behind the scenes also led to the staging of the first-ever cricket World Cup in 1973 (she beat the men to it by two years), in which she captained England to victory. RN
All Out Cricket’s list of the 20 most influential figures in the women’s game, compiled with the help of crickether.com, was originally published in the July edition (129) of the magazine. Over the next week it will be re-published here.