Norma Johnston may not be known to the current generation but she was an absolute legend. Pat Cummins, the men’s Australian test skipper in fact brought it to the world’s attention as he tweeted earlier today, “This morning I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Norma Johnston.
Norma was a pioneer of the women’s game and until her death was Australia’s oldest Test cricketer. She was passionate about cricket, about her home town of Bathurst and the many women who would follow in her footsteps representing their state and country. Her contribution to Australian cricket and the friendships she made with so many within the game will live on forever. My thoughts are with her family and many friends.”
But who was Norma Johnston?
She was Australia’s oldest living test cricketer and she passed away today aged 95. Having featured in seven tests for Australia from 1948 to 1951, she served Australia as a middle-order batter and a medium-pace bowler. She scored a decent 151 runs at an average of 25.16 while also scalping 22 wickets at 17.26. She made her debut with the iconic Betty Wilson on the tour of New Zealand and has carved a name for herself in history books for the right reasons. She was also a regular feature for New South Wales in their domestic circuit and was regarded as a valuable and passionate member of the Southern Stars set up in the post-war era. Her invaluable potential was identified first in the annual NSW Country Week tournament and her subsequent selection for NSW and Australia paved the way for a lot of young girls who wished to play the sport. She encouraged the participation of girls from her region and when she returned to Bathurst after her retirement in 1951, she gave back to the community by serving as an essential cog in their local sporting community.
Lisa Sthalekar, another former cricketer chimed in and shared an anecdote saying, “I loved listening to her recall touring with the pioneers of the women’s game and it was an interest she carried all the way through to her love of the WBBL and the thrill she got from just how far the game had progressed. Being a girl from Bathurst in country New South Wales, she always kept an eye on and had a place close to her heart for all the country girls who would come through and play for their state and Australia,” as quoted by cricket.com.au. Nick Hockley, the Chief Executive of Cricket Australia also released a statement and said, “Everyone across Australian Cricket will be saddened to hear of Norma’s passing. As a pioneer, Norma not only made a wonderful contribution as a player but helped set the platform for the many thousands of women and girls now playing the game. On behalf of everyone in Australian cricket, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Norma’s family and friends at this sad time.”
I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.