Australia v England
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide: 15th – 18th January 1949
Adelaide had put on a spectacular day of sunshine and clear skies, and it was under these conditions that Mollie Dive and Molly Hide walked to the wicket at 10:15AM for the coin toss. It was an historic occasion, the first ever women’s Test in South Australia and at the hallowed ground of the picturesque Adelaide Oval. Dive won the toss and immediately elected to bat, in what was not a difficult decision to make.
England took to the field behind their enigmatic captain, confident that they had been unbeaten so far on tour. There had been resistance from some individuals, but largely England had been untroubled by their Australian opponents.
Joan Schmidt and Amy Hudson followed them to the crease and a crowd that built steadily through the day to just over 9,000 spectators watched the Aussie openers take guard, eager to see the home side do well.
Schmidt was bowled by Dorothy McEvoy for a duck from the fifth ball of the innings. Australia 1/0. The Aussie skipper came to the crease and took little time getting off the mark. On 3, she pushes the ball into the covers for a quick single but her partner Amy Hudson doesn’t move. Mollie tries desperately, lunging back to the crease but alas, the skipper is runout by Megan Lowe’s return to the keeper. Betty Snowball doesn’t miss them. Australia 2/3. That brings Una Paisley and her steadying hand to the crease, but shortly after her arrival Hudson is McEvoy’s second victim, LBW for 5. Australia on the brink of disaster on a perfect Adelaide batting wicket at 3/19.
‘Cometh the hour, cometh the woman. Enter Betty Wilson. With Una Paisley defending stoutly and collecting the odd single, Wilson stood tall and came out guns blazing in a fashion that only she could conjure up. Dropped by Netta Rheinberg in the slips before she had scored, Betty Wilson astounded the crowd with her range of shots and her crisp timing. Her tall stature, her flashing drives.
Wilson’s counter attack meant that the Australian 50 came up in just 77 minutes and the fifty partnership in 65 minutes. Wilson was driving to all parts of the ground and a savage pull shot nearly cleared the fence. At the other end, Una Paisley playing the perfect foil with dabs and cuts, eventually falling LBW to Hide for an excellent 46 and joining Wilson in a stand of 115, made in just 128 minutes. The two Victorians had steadied the ship and had done so at good clip.
“This great little player set about retrieving the side’s fortunes in dashing style. She jumped in to drive, square cut, glance – every stroke played with expert technique. The power and placement of her strokes were amazing for a woman. If ever a century was deserved, this one was.” – former Test bowler Clarrie Grimmett writing in the Adelaide News
After Paisley went, Wilson continued to blaze away, but began to run out of partners, who were falling steadily at the other end. Flo McClintock and Lorna Larter came and went, Joyce Christ hung around for 12, but the running between the wickets was appalling. While it fell apart at one end, Betty Wilson brought up her century, the first ever by an Australian on home soil, delighting the home crowd, however she herself was eventually one of the four runout victims. She had come to the crease at 3/19 and was ninth out after her glorious knock of 111, Australia 9/201. Myrtle Craddock and Alma Vogt took the score to 213, leaving England an hour and a half to bat out the day.
Molly Hide instructs her openers to tread carefully and Myrtle Maclagan, with Cecilia Robinson, did exactly that. Painfully so. Norma Whiteman and Alma Vogt opened the bowling and there was little on offer to score from, so tight was the bowling.
The English innings was described as “funereal” and they seemed to catch the Australian disease with poor running. After a 35 minute stay, Maclagan is runout by Whiteman in a slick piece of work from silly mid-on, for only 4 runs. Mary Duggan is sent in as a night watchman and she too is bogged down, so much so that they caused the crowd to heckle them.
Mollie Dive turns to spin with Betty Wilson and Myrtle Craddock and it pays dividends immediately. The spinners have England pinned down, surrounded by close catchers and eventually Duggan holes out, caught by Amy Hudson from the bowling of Wilson. England limp to stumps, 2/21 with Robinson on 15* and Hazel Sanders yet to score. On the positive front for England, their big guns, Hide and Snowball, are yet to bat while Robinson is still there.
A rest day on Sunday before play resumed on Monday morning. While the good weather has continued, so too the rot for the English batting and as if they hadn’t seen enough of Betty Wilson, she is all over England like a cheap suit, her first duty of the day catching Duggan at square leg from the bowling of Whiteman. Disaster for England when their best batter and skipper, Molly Hide is clean bowled by Craddock for 5. Craddock’s line was impeccable. Things got worse for the visitors.
Wilson clean bowled Betty Snowball for 1 and England were reeling at 5/46. Wilson again. A smart stumping by Larter from Wilson’s bowling saw Rheinberg dismissed for a duck. 6/46. McEvoy is bowled by Wilson for 4. England 7/52. Lowe is brilliantly caught close in by Joan Schmidt off Wilson for a duck and the score is now 8/52. Wilson then runs out Johnson for 5 before cleaning up the opener, Mary Robinson LBW for 34. England were all out for 72. Wilson had bowled 26.5 overs, 16 maidens, 6-23.
England were stunned. Only Robinson, who was on debut, had made double figures. It is easy to see the brilliance of Wilson, but the Australian fielding took everyone by surprise, particularly opposition captain, Molly Hide, reporting in the WCA Magazine (Vol 14 #6):
“I do not think I have ever seen such an agile team, or one in which every player had such wonderful anticipation and quickness at getting off the mark. Whenever I was batting I felt that I was up against a really hostile fielding side with which I could take no liberties and I know that the rest of our team felt the same. The backing up by the Australians, the clean way in which they picked up the ball, and their throwing in were a joy to watch, and this applies to every member of the team, each one being worth her place in the team for her fielding alone.”
Anchored by a solid innings of 81 not out from Amy Hudson, the Aussies go for quick runs in the second innings to press home the advantage. Maclagan takes out Schmidt for 12 and the skipper for 3, who is out hit wicket. Una Paisley scores 28, McLintock 11, while Betty Wilson’s running hasn’t improved, runout for 22. Mollie Dive declares the innings closed 5/173 at the end of the second day, leaving England to chase 315 for victory on day three. The English consider this a sporting declaration and despite their first innings debacle, feel they are well in this game.
Maclagan and Robinson begin steadily, but the innings takes a bad turn when Maclagan is bowled by a shooter from Whiteman for 10. Hide comes and goes in a flashy cameo, brilliantly caught one-handed on the boundary by Whiteman from the bowling of Craddock for 30, which included six boundaries.
Robinson, the mainstay of the first innings, falls to Wilson caught by Schmidt and she is joined in the pavilion by Betty Snowball who fails again, bowled by Whiteman for 1. Rheinberg is bowled by Wilson for a duck before the young Whiteman cleans up Sanders and McEvoy.
It is a procession and England simply cannot hold the Australian bowlers at bay. Wilson takes out Johnson with another catch to Whiteman, before Una Paisley rolls her arm over to finish off the England innings, all out for 128. Whiteman in her debut picked up 4 wickets in an impressive display, along with 2 catches. Wilson collected 3 wickets to give her nine for the match. Australia the victors by a decisive 186 runs.
Curiously, the England pace bowler, Eileen Whelan, who batted at number 11, did not bowl a single over in the Test match! Did Hide forget she was playing? (Eileen did score a century in the end: she was the first female cricketer to live to 100.)
Mollie Dive had now won her first two Test matches as captain. Adelaide had given strong support to the Test, with over 17,000 spectators over the three days and gate receipts in excess of £1170.
Australia 213 (Wilson 111, Paisley 46, Hide 3-24) and 5/173 (Hudson 81*) defeated England 72 (Robinson 34, Wilson 6-23) and 128 (Hide 30, Whiteman 4-33, Wilson 3-39, Craddock 2-22) by 186 runs