Hazel Pritchard played all six Test matches in the first two series between Australia and England, 1934/35 and 1937. Seen by all as the most likely to succeed and the most attractive stroke maker in the country, Pritchard struggled with the bat in 1934/35 but made up for it on the return trip to England in 1937.
Born on 23rd December 1913 in Sydney, NSW, Hazel Pritchard makes her debut for NSW at the National Championships in 1931/23. Her elegant stroke play becomes increasingly noticeable as she steadily moves up the order and is finally opening the batting by season 1933/34. Her NSW captain Margaret Peden knew a good thing when she saw it.
Hazel was one of the first names written down as the selectors chose a team for the first women’s Test series when England toured in 1934/5. England captain Betty Archdale noticed her during the tour match against NSW:
“Hazel Pritchard, small, rather shy and very good looking, was the attractive bat in Australia. She made 27 and 75 for N.S. W. Her batting was graceful and stylish. Hazel Pritchard was also one of the best Australian fielders, most often fielding at cover.”
Hazel opened the batting for Australia in the first Test with Ruby Monaghan, her opening partner for NSW. Neither lasted long, but it was Hazel who had the dubious honour of being the first woman dismissed in Test cricket and was actually out “hit wicket” from the bowling of Myrtle Maclagan. In the second innings she made 20.
In the second Test, at the SCG, another unhappy record: the first woman to record a pair of ducks in women’s Tests. A similar tale for the third Test at the MCG with just 10 runs from two innings. How did things go so terribly wrong for Australia’s premier stroke player?
A not out century in 1936/37 saw Hazel back to her best for NSW and was selected for the 1937 tour of England. She played eight matches on tour scoring 617 runs with a high of 144 not out. That form was transformed to the Test arena where she scored 306 runs at 51.00 with a high score of 87 which helped Australia win their first ever Test match.
In six Tests Hazel scored 340 runs at 28.33. She retired from first class cricket at the end of 1937/38 with 1461 runs at 47.12 with a high score of 193 not out. Hazel married Leslie Scanlon on 23rd March 1938. We lost her in 1967 at the young age of only 53 years. In 2011 she was inducted into the NSW Cricket Hall of Fame.