Pixie Ninety Not Out
Born on October 31st 1930, in Singleton, New South Wales, former Australian Test cricket captain, Muriel “Pixie” Picton turned 90 in 2020 and is the oldest living Australian women’s Test cricket captain.
Pixie grew up on a farm just outside of Singleton in the mid north of NSW, where she played cricket at home with her brothers, but there was no organized cricket for girls at Maitland High School, nor the teachers college she attended in Newcastle. Her cricket career would not commence until she moved to Sydney to become a primary school teacher upon graduation. Picton played with the YWCA Club from 1951 until retirement in 1970.
Cricket was not the first time Pixie represented Australia. She was on the first overseas tour by the Australian women’s hockey team – now the “Hockeyroos” – to the Netherlands in 1959.
By the time Pixie is selected to play for Australia, she is captain in her debut Test against New Zealand in 1960/61 against Rona McKenzie’s team. The all conquering Victorian state team knew Pixie well and the captaincy was no surprise.
“It was known in Victoria that Pixie was being trained for the England tour.” – Miriam Knee
That debut Test at Carisbrook Ground in Dunedin saw the Aussies escape with a draw, in a Test they should have won. Pixie was 19 not out as Australia held off the New Zealand attack, 8/100.
1962 saw Pixie back in a hockey blazer, this time off to Malaya for another tour. By the time the team for the England Ashes tour in 1963 is selected, Pixie has been demoted to vice-captain and the team played under Mary Allitt, going down 1-0.
No Test cricket for another five years and Pixie is once again in charge of the team for the Ashes series in 1968/9. It is another stalemate, 0-0 over three Tests, typical of the time and typical of three days Test matches.
Pixie retired from Test cricket after that series and from all cricket in 1970. She continued to be involved with the game and was a national and NSW selector for a period of time. Her batting and bowling stats are quite modest, but this is tempered by the culture of the time which meant the captain stood back for other players, batting lower in the order, and allowing other bowlers to bowl ahead of her. This was also true of her predecessors, Peden, Dive and Paisley. She was a captain first and a player second.
“Pixie had a complete understanding of the game, knew her players and used them well. She was an excellent tactician.” – Miriam Knee
It is not hard to agree with Miriam Knee. In my dealings with Pixie, her cricket brain is second to none.