What happened in the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

“I was so nervous because of the media and royal attention that I took four overs to get off the mark. But I got a half-century and led England to the title. Princess Anne handed the trophy to us.”, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint said to ESPN Cricinfo when asked about her world cup winning experience.

Rachael (11 June 1939 – 18 January 2017), was the winning captain of the England team of the first-ever cricket world cup. Portraying how aesthetic she felt as she spoke, her eyes sure must’ve glimmered reminiscing the moment she was handed the trophy by a member of the Royal family and was later invited for dinner by the same. This is just one of the many things that made the 1973 world cup so peculiar.

 

Rachael Heyhoe-Flint lifting the Maiden ODI World Cup Trophy
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint lifting the Maiden ODI World Cup Trophy. PC: Getty Images

 

To start with, it has a remarkable back story. In July 1971, during a match between England XI and Young England XI, it was a spectator – Sir Jack Arnold Hayward (14 June 1923 – 13 January 2015), a wealthy and reputed English businessman, property developer, philanthropist, and more who first expressed interest in financially contributing to women’s cricket and proposed the idea of a women’s world cup to the Women’s Cricket Association. It was 2 years post this, that the feat was finally achieved and the first-ever cricket world cup was played.

How many teams participated in the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The 1973 edition was played between 7 teams – England, Young England, Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, and an International XI.

South Africa was close to being a competitor however, due to its ongoing political issues owing to its apartheid laws, it was sacked to protect the commencement of the WC. Nevertheless, to make up for this loss, 5 South African players were invited to be a part of the International XI. However, the WCA later canceled this too due to the same fear of cancellation.

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Format of 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The 1973 WC was of the round-robin format. This means that each team faced every other team in turns. Consequently, there were 21 matches of which 2 were abandoned with no result. The highest batting average was a striking 88 by England’s Enid Bakewell who scored 264 runs in 4 innings, the highest score being 118. Likewise, the competition also saw several other excellent batting performances by the likes of Lynne Thomas, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, and Jackie Potter each of who averaged above 80.

Top performers of 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

On the other hand, the highest wicket-taker was England’s Rosalind Heggs with 12 scalps to her name in 6 matches, averaging 14.91. The lowest average (10.22) was secured by her teammate, Mary Pilling who unsettled 9 batters in 6 matches.

The tournament witnessed several mouth-watering clashes but the most unforgettable one has to be the final itself in which arch-rivals, England and Australia locked horns. England had won the toss and elected to bat first, posting a brilliant 279/3 in their 60 overs, fired by skipper Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s (64) and opener Enid Bakewell’s elegant century (118) who also went on to pick up 2 wickets like Sue Hilliam and Mary Pilling.

Australia on the other hand was not able to play up to their caliber on that day and suffered an embarrassing loss by 92 runs despite an excellent 57 by Jackie Potter. It was just not their day however, their excellent performance throughout the tournament has won them much more. Much more than just a match.

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That was the end of that match and the tournament, however, the beginning of a legacy that is now being carried forward while remembering the old heroes, or heroines actually that made it possible for the rest of us to believe that we too can.

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