England v Australia
The Oval, Kennington: 10th – 13th July 1937
While the series in Australia in 1934 was played on regular Test grounds, it hadn’t been the case in this series in 1937 and indeed, the England women struggled to get any grounds at all for their domestic competition. That made it all the more special to be playing at the famous cricket ground simply known as “The Oval”, with its trademark gasometer and unpredictable weather.
Margaret Peden won the toss in front of the gathering crowd, which would peak at about 6000 and walked to the crease with a new opening batting partner, Pat Holmes. Peggy Antonio had failed to fire in the first two Tests and was dropped down the order.
Myrtle Maclagan and Betty Belton opened the bowling, but the players were soon off for rain. On the resumption, the right arm pace of Joan Davis made the breakthrough, taking out Peden for 10. Holmes stayed firm and made 70 while a succession of Australian batters at the other end made starts but failed to capitalize, which was probably due to repeated rain interruptions. Davis collected 5 scalps as Australia made an under par 9/207.
The rain delays forced Peden’s hand. Bat longer and lose more time, or declare and get the game moving along? Not one to let things roll along aimlessly, Peden declared.
Maclagan and Betty Snowball put on another batting show before Maclagan gave Nell McLarty a return catch on 34. Davis went early to Alicia Walsh before Hide and Snowball continued to dominate, the captain an impressive, if not imperial, 64 and Snowball desperately unlucky to be run out by Mollie Flaherty for 99. England were looking for quick runs, but the Australians were more accurate in the back half of the innings. Hide declared at 9/308, a lead of 101. McLarty had bowled her heart out: 37 overs, 20 maidens, 3-29.
Time was the enemy of a result and Peden couldn’t risk a declaration, especially as Australia were on the canvas at 2/18, with both her and Holmes back in the pavilion. Sadly, the Aussie skipper had made a duck in her final Test innings. Hazel Pritchard, Peggy Antonio and Kathleen Smith steadied the ship and Australia were all out for 224, however the match was saved because there was only time for 3 overs in the England second innings, the match ending in a draw.
Thus ended Australia’s first tour abroad. A drawn series, 1-1, which included Australia’s first Test victory. A little more experience and it might have been 2-0, had the Blackpool collapse not happened, but that is cricket.
Peggy Antonio was at her brilliant best with the ball, taking 19 wickets at 11.15. Nell McLarty with 10 wickets at 13.10 was next best. Special mention to Alice Wegemund who took 5 stumpings and 2 catches.
For the English, Myrtle Maclagan’s 315 at 78.75, along with 11 wickets at 25.72, showed for the second successive series why she was the most dominant player in world cricket. Betty Snowball with 199 at 38.20 backed it up behind the stumps with 6 catches and 2 stumpings again proving her class. Molly Hide was slightly down with her batting, just 133 at 26.60, but topped the bowling for England with 14 wickets at 12.64. Those three players with their allround brilliance were the difference. They were the best three players in world cricket.
Australia 207 (Holmes 70, Davis 5/31) and 224 (Pritchard 66, Smith 45, Davis 3/55) drew with England 308 (Snowball 99, Hide 64, McLarty 3/29) and 3/9 (McLarty 2/4)