First Test 1976

England v Australia

Old Trafford, Manchester: 19th – 21st June 1976

At Old Trafford, under typically grey skies Rachael Heyhoe Flint won the toss for England and surprisingly sent the opposition in to bat. This went against the pattern of women’s Test cricket in the three day fixtures. Normal course of action was to bat on winning the toss and either set up a win or bat long enough to ensure that you wouldn’t lose. Heyhoe Flint had thrown that textbook out the window by inviting the Australians to bat.

I think Rachael thought she would catch us on a green wicket and put us in.” – Anne Gordon

After Mary Pilling had Marg Jennings caught behind for 2, it seemed as though the England captain’s tactic was a step in the right direction, but that was the only one in what came a procession of runs from the Aussies. Both Jans, Tredrea (67) and Lumsden (65) scored half centuries, while Lorraine Hill (46), Wendy Hills (36) and Sharon Tredrea (36) dined out on the English bowling, allowing Anne Gordon to declare 6/273. Just as England had made a bold move in sending Australia in to bat, Gordon replied in kind by declaring the first innings early.

Raelee Thompson removed the dangerous Enid Bakewell for 1 and then had Lynne Thomas, the other opener, caught behind for 12 leaving England 2/31. The England captain then nailed herself to the crease and crafted a steady innings, rescuing the England cause with a timely century. Around her the England team rallied and repelled the Australians, however there was an air of stodginess, a lack of intent to move the game forward.

Had Heyhoe-Flint misread the wicket and erred by sending the Aussies in and was now trying to nullify the error? If so, the England captain succeeded. Where Australia made 273 from 94 overs, England took 127 overs to make 6 declared for 254. It was hardly aggressive cricket.

There was time for 56 overs which Australia used for batting practice as there was no way to set up a target for England and at 6/128 the match ended. What appeared a possible bright Test match simply faded to another draw. What seemed like positive intent on day one became positively tedious on day two and an irrelevance on day three.

Australia 6/273 (J. Tredrea 67, Lumsden 65, Hill 46) and 6/128 (Jennings 52, Bakewell 3-11) drew with England 6/254 (Heyhoe-Flint 110, Moorhouse 60, Thompson 3-79)