First women's international cricket test match, Brisbane, 1934
On 28 December, 1934, Queensland hosted the very first women's international cricket test match. This historic match, Australia vs England, was played at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds over three days.
From their arrival by the Kyogle train on 20 December until they left on 1 January, the English team had a busy schedule, conducting radio interviews, a reception at the Town Hall and a dinner at the Belle-Vue Hotel. The team did have some free time to explore, including a specially arranged visit to Southport.
A warm-up match between England and Queensland was played at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds on 22 and 24 December. The visitors thrashed the locals by an innings and 41 runs.
On 28 December, over three thousand curious spectators turned out on the first day of the test match. Australia batted first and were bowled out for 47 runs off 49.3 overs, with a very slow run rate of 0.94 runs per over. The Aussie side struggled against some of the English bowling attack and at one point there were 11 consecutive maiden overs. England followed with 154 runs, scoring slightly faster at 2.10 runs per over.
The Aussies fared slightly better in their second innings with a total of 138, leaving the visitors to chase 34 runs for victory. The England team easily compiled the necessary runs with 9 wickets to spare.
The State Library of Queensland is very fortunate to hold a souvenir and official program for the English cricket team’s visit to Queensland. The start of the program contains a welcome from the President of the Queensland Women’s Cricket Association, stating that although the Queensland association was not “strong numerically” and in its “infancy", that their “enthusiasm keen and sincere”. Within the program is an article titled “Women in sport", which highlights the rights of women to compete in previously male dominated sports - “…the entry of women into cricket is but another instance of the modern girl’s challenge to the supremacy of the male”.
The program also provides an overview and profile of each English player. For instance, J. Lidert – according to her brief bio- “May be called the Bohemian of the party, as she is an art student in London. When not wielding the brush or holding the palette she wields a flashing bat and is a useful change bowler.”
England eventually wrapped up the 1934/5 test series against Australia 2 nil. In a Sunday Mail interview with the England captain, Dot Waldron, she commented on Australia’s attitude towards the game of cricket - “Our aim is to play the game for the game’s sake, and give our opponents a good game. The trouble with Australians as a whole, is that you take the game too seriously”.
The Australian team featured one Queenslander, Kath Smith. Smith was the vice-captain and an all-rounder. Kath Smith top scored in the first innings with 25 runs. She was the only Australian player to reach double figures in that innings. In the second innings she scored 12 runs. Smith went on to play 6 tests in her career with a batting average of just under 28. She also has taken 13 wickets at an average of 31. Kath Smith continues to be a source of inspiration for Women’s Grade Cricket with the Kath Smith Medal awarded annually to the best and fairest women’s cricketer in first grade cricket.
Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland
Previously titled - 80th anniversary - First women's international cricket test match was played in Brisbane