The 1982 Women’s Cricket World Cup saw the tournament head to New Zealand first time. Although the International Women’s Cricket Council took a more involved role in the competition’s organisation, having learnt from the previous edition, much of the groundwork still fell to the hosting country.
In New Zealand, that meant double-duty for a number of players who would be selected to play after spending the best part of 18 months arranging the tournament. The hard work of these players, notably Trish McKelvey and Barb Bevege, resulted in the tournament gaining a naming rights sponsor for the first time as it became the Hansells Vita Fresh World Cup.
Once again, apartheid South Africa cast a shadow over the tournament as organisers, still idealistic about any split between sport and politics, were faced with the late withdrawal of the West Indies who chose to stand against the decision made by New Zealand the previous year when they hosted the Springbok rugby team. In a less political absence, the Netherlands, as they did in 1978, pulled out due to financial concerns. To avoid another four-team World Cup, organisers repeated the successful initiative of including an International XI.
After good luck gave the two previous World Cups a final, in spite of being played in league formats, the 1982 edition featured an actual final for the first time. It also included 30 other matches, in less than a month, as each of the five teams involved played each other three times. Without doubt one of the more extensive, and exhaustive, world titles ever played for.
In order to fit in so many matches within such a compressed time period, fifteen venues were used, covering New Zealand from Auckland to Dunedin. While the Basin Reserve hosted the most games (six), the final was the only match played at Christchurch’s Lancaster Park. Further highlighting the volume of cricket was the fact the tournament also returned to 60-over contests – a feature of 1973 whereas the Indian World Cup had seen 50-over matches.
Hopes were high for the New Zealand side which was made up of a mix of experienced players, several of whom had featured at each of the two previous World Cups, and new faces. Among those introduced to ODI cricket for the first time were Nicki Turner, Lesley Murdoch, Karen Plummer, and future ICC Hall of Famer, Debbie Hockley. While this balance is often looked at as a positive, within the team that feeling was that it was challenging finding unity between the two age groups.
New Zealand’s tournament opener against England saw a historic result, but not for reasons either team would truly celebrate. After losing the toss and being sent in to bat at Auckland’s Cornwall Park, the home side made 147 for 9. Hockley, on debut, top-scored with 44 but the real statistical highlight of the innings was the bowling of England’s Avril Starling who bowled 12 overs and claimed 3 wickets for just 7 runs. Rachel Heyhoe Flint, recalled to the side at 43 years old, hit 76 for England but the run out of Jan Southgate off the final ball of the innings saw the match end in a tie. The first stalemate in women’s ODI history.
I was pacing up and down. I couldn’t look in the last few overs – I had to go into the changing room.
– Corinne Pritchard, NZ Manager, on the tie with England
Next up for New Zealand was the International XI – a side featuring ten debutantes. The experience of the home team showed in their innings as they hit 244 for 6 with Barb Bevege hitting our first World Cup century (101). The composite team were all out for 60 in reply, giving New Zealand a win by 184 runs. That mark would stand as the record margin in women’s ODIs for another six years.
The next match for New Zealand saw another record as India were bowled out for just 37 – the lowest score in a women’s ODI. Although Barb Bevege continued to stand tall with the bat at the top of the order, losses to Australia and England followed the India win. Having faced each team at least once, New Zealand then saw their results repeat as India and the International XI continued to be easy-beats while England and Australia proved too strong.
Throughout the tournament, New Zealand were led by Jackie Lord with the ball and Bevege with the bat. Lord was the leading wicket-taker through the 30 matches of pool play, only overtaken by Australia’s Lyn Fullston in the World Cup final. With 320 runs to her name, Bevege was the fifth highest run-scorer. Combined with her efforts from the first two tournaments, Bevege stood as the third highest run-scorer in World Cups.
While these performances were impressive, there was a massive amount of disappointment at being unable to deliver a World Cup on home soil, finishing their customary third. The challenge of being so deeply involved in the organisation of the tournament took it’s toll on the players, as did a heavy feeling of expectation that developed within the squad. In spite of that, the tournament was largely deemed a success and the profile of women in the game grew, especially in New Zealand where the level of media coverage was unprecedented.
“We did a lot with radio, [. . .] a lot of promotion. [. . .] Mahi Potiki did ball by ball commentaries. She was quite a character: “Saulbrey, lumbering in to the wicket. . .”
Corinne Pritchard, NZ Manager
Still, the feeling that they had missed their chance would stick with the players. One of them would get the chance to put that right 18 years later.
Although the home team were out, there was still a trophy to lift and the two previous champions would easily qualify to contest the final. Australia were unbeaten through their twelve pool matches, only a tie against England stopping them from winning every single match. That result would’ve been seen more positively among the English as it came after two comprehensive losses to the reigning champions.
With Dickie Bird officiating, and bringing his own star power to the occasion, Rachel Heyhoe Flint – in her final international – won the toss and chose to bat. In a sluggish innings, somewhat typical of the whole tournament, England made 151 for 5 as they moved along at just two and a half runs per over. While none of the Australians would score more than 37, five of them made double figures as they chased the total in 59 overs.
Along with Heyhoe Flint bowing out, another English World Cup star, Enid Bakewell, would also retire. For Australia, their second World Cup victory would continue an unprecedented run of success.