50 years of the Cricket World Cup Completed: The ICC commemorates an important milestone in cricket’s history: The (ICC) International Cricket Council celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Cricket World Cup. On June 20, 1973, the proceedings of the Women’s Cricket World Cup began in England.
It will be the starting point of a five-week-long tribute to the anniversary event, which will build up to July 28, the date of the first-ever Women’s World Cup final between England and Australia. The ICC will publish content that will celebrate the first ever Cricket World Cup. In this, tribute will be paid to the stars of that era.
A full two years before the inaugural Men’s Cricket World Cup, which was held in England in 1975, the competition was the first-ever World Cup in cricket in terms of competition. This in itself sets cricket apart from other major sporting events.
“The Face Of Women’s Cricket” is Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.:
The tournament consisted of seven sides, the hosts England, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Young England and an International XI. The event was sponsored by British businessman Sir Jack Hayward, who provided monetary support to the event in the form of GBP 40,000.
Although the first match of the tournament between Jamaica and New Zealand was abandoned before a ball was bowled, the World Cup had its fair share of cricket. England ultimately won the coveted trophy after defeating Australia by 92 runs in the championship game on July 28 at Edgbaston. Rachael Hayhoe-Flint, the victorious captain, received the trophy from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.
The celebrations began with the ICC sharing several pictures from the event on the ICC social media channels. These include a picture of former Jamaican cricketer Paulette Lynch with Hayhoe-Flint. The winning captain appears in several images.
Several former players shared their memories of the World Cup.
Enid Bakewell of England was the leading run-scorer with 264 runs at an average of 88. She had best memories of the event and praised Hayhoe-Flint for being a real visionary who fought to promote the women’s game.
“My main memories of 1973 are seeing my dad with his rug over his arm coming to me after I had scored a century! After the final had been won by England, we were presented to Princess Anne who later gave me an MBE at Buckingham Palace.
“Rachael Heyhoe-Flint was the real super woman who fought to promote the women’s game. She took her ukulele to Lord’s and played it outside the ground on the street to let people know that women played cricket.
“She was a real inspiration on and off the field.”
Her teammate Lynne Thomas recalls the comradery that grew among the players. With 263 runs at an average of 87.66, Lynne Thomas was the second-highest run scorer in the World Cup.
“It was a great honour for me to represent England in the first-ever World Cup in 1973. I felt I was also representing my home country, Wales, of which I am very proud. It was a hugely successful tournament played in a true sporting spirit,” Thomas added. “The staging of the World Cup in 1973 put a tournament format into the women’s cricket calendar for the first time. It took place every four years and is still being played today.”
She also thought that the triumph of the World Cup opened the door for next women's competitions.
“I think that its success has contributed to the forming of other women’s world events such as the T20 World Cup. Being introduced to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne before the final and holding the Cup after the presentation were also major highlights.
“I have fond memories of the happy times the team spent together. The closeness of the team members, how we blended together and the fun we had. We all enjoyed playing cricket and the friendships we formed will last forever.”
Louise Browne, the captain of Trinidad and Tobago at the time, spoke about how the international competition helped women’s cricket gain popularity throughout the Caribbean.
“ It does not seem as though 50 years have gone by since I was asked to lead the Trinidad and Tobago women’s team to the inaugural Cricket World Cup in 1973. Four members of our squad had attended Cricket Week in Malvern (England) in 1971, but the rest of the team had not travelled beyond the Caribbean borders,” Browne added.
“At that inaugural World Cup, we placed fifth among the seven participating teams, with wins only against Young England and Jamaica. Our participation however, brought recognition to women’s cricket, not only in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, but throughout the Caribbean region.
“It is a pleasure to know that women can now play cricket professionally. The franchise tournaments being established worldwide have added excitement to the game.
I hope that the present players will continue to be true ambassadors for our sport, and they will represent their country or region with the passion and pride that we did. Women’s cricket in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, and the world still has a long way to go, but we are on the right track.”
Margaret Jennings, who represented Australia in the event, believed that the event was a priceless experience because of its novelty. She added that the World Cup made several players feel like “real international cricketers”.
“It was the first time I had ever travelled to the UK along with most of my teammates. Previously, tours had been once every 10 years but here we were playing against the best teams in the World before anyone else had even thought of it,” Jennings said.
“It was such a wonderful feeling to play against different countries and provided all of us with experiences money could not buy. Thanks to Rachel Hayhoe-Flint and Sir Jack Hayward we were treated well, and we all felt like real international cricketers in 1973.
“The concept of playing against all teams was one to be savoured and the final game against England where we were well and truly beaten, didn’t matter as cricket was the winner.”
Similarly, her compatriot Sharon Tredrea, called it the biggest thing to ever happen in women’s cricket at the time.
“This was the biggest thing to ever happen in women’s cricket, a World Cup format, prior to the men, none of which would have occurred without the amazing work of Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and her friend, Sir Jack Hayward, who sponsored the entire tournament.
“For me, representing your country is such a proud moment. To have had the opportunity to participate in this World Cup, now 50 years ago was a privilege. The competition during the World Cup was fierce, but played in a very sporting way, with a lot of respect for opponents. This World Cup showcased the best of the best from around the world and opened the eyes of many who dismissed women’s cricket.
“The build-up, once we arrived in England, was incredible. It was like nothing any of us had experienced before. Every day, news articles in the major newspapers were published, and to have the opportunity to play on major grounds in the UK was mind blowing.”
Tredrea believed that over the years the Women’s World Cup became a catalyst for regular international competitions for women cricketers.
“It created a tournament that has carried on through 50 years, albeit the format changing with the times, now 50 overs not 60, but it was the catalyst for more regular international competitions and the forerunner to the game we now see, boasting professional women cricketers around the world. I was fortunate to go on and play in three more World Cups, winning those three as a member of the Aussie team.
“Although it was bitterly disappointing to lose that first final to England, the media loved it and it provided unheard of publicity for the women’s game globally.”
” Today is not just a commemoration of the massive leap that was taken in women’s cricket 50 years ago, but a celebration of the women who pioneered the way forward for all women who love the game, everywhere.
“It is not just a celebration of 50 years of the Women’s Cricket World Cup, but the first-ever Cricket World Cup. Women broke this ground first and we are proud to be in an age today, where women’s cricket has taken further strides than ever before, because of those first steps that were taken in 1973.
“The global growth of women’s cricket is one of the ICC’s six strategic priority projects. Part of this is our mission to grow the number of female cricket fans and participants in the game worldwide and deliver ICC women’s events of equal standing and recognition with men’s events.
“The launch of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2009, the professionalisation of women’s cricket around the world and the exciting number of global franchise T20 leagues is the fruit of the seed that was planted many years ago.
“We look forward to many more decades of even greater strides and success stories for the women’s game.”
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