1930s: the Calm Before the Storm

Before telephones, televisions and internet there were newspapers, telegrams and good old snail mail and “word in the street”. Social media was reading the births, deaths and marriages in the newspaper. Chat sessions were talking with your neighbour over the back fence.

It was a much simpler time, black and white if you will and not just regarding photography. The world was in the grip of the Great Depression while there were rumblings in Europe that became louder as the decade drew to a close. Crowds would flock to some of these club games. Why? Money was excruciatingly tight and watching the women’s cricket was far cheaper than watching the men.

In this climate, in these dark times, women’s cricket flourished, building on the momentum gained in the 1920s, particularly in England, Australia and New Zealand, as clubs were formed, or reformed after the First World War.

Associations were then created. First in England, the Women’s Cricket Association, then the Australian Women’s Cricket Council and finally the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council.

The inevitable happened. A letter from AWCC was sent to the WCA, inviting England for a tour. The English would pay their passage and the Australians would cover accommodation. To make that long trip worthwhile the NZWCC was brought in and a tour of New Zealand would round out the visit.

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Betty Archdale would captain the England team while Australia would be led by Margaret Peden. Ruth Symons would lead New Zealand.

The first Test match between Australia and England, commencing on 28th December 1934 was the first day of international women’s cricket. There were three Tests on that tour, in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and one Test in New Zealand in Christchurch.

Judging by the feelings expressed by delegates at the last meeting of the All Australia Women’s Cricket Association, I think it quite possible that Australia will be able to raise the money to send a team to England as soon as an invitation is received.” – Margaret Peden told the Sydney Sun, March 1935

Indeed it happened. There was one more cricket tour in the 1930s when Australia visited England for Three Tests and a short stopover in the Netherlands in 1937.

A tour by England to Australia and New Zealand was well underway with planning for 1939/40 when cricket would take a back seat and not re-appear until the 1940s.