Mary Pilling was a pace bowler for England who played in eleven Test matches and also played in the first two World Cups.
Born on December 14th 1938 in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, Mary was a right arm fast bowler. She made her Test debut, and her presence felt, against the Australian touring team of 1963. Opening the bowling in the first Test at Edgbaston, Pilling removed the Australian captain Mary Allitt. She added the scalps of Norma Wilson and Miriam Knee to finish with 3-35.
Mim Knee remembers Mary Pilling as a “pleasant person, as was the whole England team”, but on the field was a different matter.
“A real aggressive competitor with great control as a bowler,” says former England player Megan Lear, who remembers being a net bowler for Pilling at school.
“She was of course my idol when she taught me at Gravesend Grammar School. She was playing for England then, a fearsome fast bowler and great competitor. I was 15 and she asked me to go and bowl at her in the nets as practise for the series against NZ in 1966.”
Pilling bowled 38 overs at those Kiwis in the first Test at Scarborough and took 2-26, removing both openers in the process. While she played the second Test, she missed the third and would not play for England again until the tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1968/69. It was in Auckland in the third Test where she took her career best Test figures of 4-53.
She played one more Test, in the home summer of 1976 against Australia. Again she showed her enthusiasm for Aussie skippers by removing Anne Gordon – and Marg Jennings. In her eleven Tests Mary Pilling took 18 wickets at 38.33. But by now another form of the game had taken hold.
Mary played for England in the inaugural ODI World Cup when England were triumphant in 1973. Her only other ODI matches were in the second World Cup, played in India in 1977/8. In nine ODI matches Mary took 10 wickets at 14.00 with a best of 2-6 with an economy rate a miserable 1.84. It should be noted that Mary also toured with the Unicorns to South Africa in 1974/75 and 1975/76.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images