Helen Sharpe was the sixth captain of the England women’s Test cricket team and the first to lead a team on a tour to South Africa.
Her primary role as a wicket keeper, Helen made her Test debut on the 1957/58 tour of Australia and New Zealand in the second Test at Auckland. She scored 17 not out in the first innings and stumped Verna Coutts in the second. She did not take part in any of the Tests which followed, Ruth Westbrook taking the job behind the stumps.
That tour saw the end of England captain Mary Duggan‘s Test career and in 1960/61 Helen was appointed the sixth Test captain of England and led the team on a maiden tour of South Africa. Helen opened the batting while Westbrook retained the keeper’s role. Also in the team the next captain of England, Rachael Heyhoe.
It was a tough series for the new skipper, the home team proving to be no easy beats, despite this being their debut series. The first two Tests were drawn, but finally in the third a breakthrough for both captain and England. Sharpe made her highest Test score of 126 as she led England to a six wicket victory.
The final Test was drawn and thus a 1-0 victory for England. It was Helen’s final Test. Her final first-class fixture a match between an England XI and the touring Australians in 1963. She passed away in December 1996.