Born on November 1st 1925, in Deniliquin, New South Wales, former Australian Test cricket captain, Mary Allitt. Mary was the fifth captain, following on from Muriel Picton.
Mary was one of eleven children born on a property outside of Deniliquin and you can imagine that sports, horse riding and chores around the farm filled their day.
In the modern day, Deniliquin is a good 7 or 8 hours by car from Sydney. In 1934/5, goodness knows why, but Betty Archdale’s England team took an 8 hour trek from Melbourne to play a tour match there.
In December 1948 it took Molly Hide’s team a 24 hour train trip to play against a Deniliquin team that had four Allitt sisters playing in the home team. The 23 year old Mary carried her bat, making 51 not out from the team total of 96.
“Thanks to a stoical innings by Mary Allitt, who opens the innings for them and is last out with 51, Deniliquin succeeds in keeping us in the field for three hours in a temperature of 100 degrees.” – Nancy Joy (Maiden Over)
That innings got the attention of NSW selectors and Australian selectors. Later that month Mary opened the batting for NSW against England and then in January played in an Australian XI against the tourists. Those two matches were Mary’s first in first class cricket.
Selected for the tour of England in 1951 under Mollie Dive, Allitt played her debut Test at Scarborough, making 30 and 8.
A fixture at the top of the Australian batting order for eleven Test matches over twelve years, it wasn’t the runs Mary scored, but the occupation of the crease that was so important and this was the key element of that innings in Deniliquin.
By the time Australia return to England it is 1963. Muriel Picton, the youngster from NSW had captained Australia in New Zealand in 1961 but was not chosen as captain. Instead, the captaincy went to Mary Allitt, the only player in the squad to have previously toured England. At 37 years of age, it is the final tour for Mary and she celebrated by making her top score of 76 at Scarborough, where it had all begun 12 years before. Allitt received the Order of Australia medal in 2007 and passed away in December 2013, aged 88.