Karen Smithies is the twelfth Test cricket captain of England and in the ten Tests she led the team, she never lost a match.
Born on 20th March 1969 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, captaincy of an Under 19s boys team at her local club was Karen’s first taste of leadership in the game. It would be a journey where she would captain England in ten Test matches without defeat and in the ODI game the pinnacle, holding aloft the World Cup trophy in 1993.
Karen’s international debut came in 1986 against India in an ODI series and her Test debut the following year when England hosted the Ashes in 1987. In the third Test of that series Karen made her highest score of 64, top scoring for the team and sharing a 110 run partnership with Jo Chamberlain. The pair of them copped blows to the body and a little chatter from the Aussies as they fought to save England after coming together at 108/6.
Karen was elevated to the captaincy of the ODI team in 1990 and led the team for a decade, winning 23 of 45 games, but only one of those really matters, the final of the World Cup in 1993 against New Zealand. Not only did Karen lead the team in the tournament, she led the way with ball, joint highest wicket taker with 15 wickets at – get this: 7.93! Also an economy rate of 1.54, the best in the tournament.
In 69 ODI matches Karen scored 921 runs with a top score of 110 not out, along with 64 wickets at 18.65.
Karen’s debut as Test captain was on the tour of India in 1995/96. In an exciting three Test series which could have gone either way, and included some memorable performances both teams, England prevailed and won the series 1-0. Karen led the team against New Zealand at home in 1996, and against a powerful Australian team in 1998 where she kept the opposition winless. Across fifteen Tests, Karen scored 443 runs at 22.15 and took 16 wickets.Embed from Getty Images