After a five-year gap, the Women’s Cricket World Cup was again contested in 1993, returning to England where the tournament began 20 years earlier. As had regularly been the case since 1973, the 1993 edition faced challenges which almost saw it cancelled. Where previous tournaments had seen teams withdraw due to a lack of funds, this time it was the organisers who struggled financially.

In New Zealand in 1982 and Australia six years later, the Women’s World Cup had seen commercial sponsors claim naming rights. For the English Women’s Cricket Association (WCA), potential sponsors rejected approaches due to a lack of media coverage, specifically the televising of matches.

With just days to go until tournament details needed to be confirmed, the WCA’s position looked hopeless. Thankfully, the Foundation for Sports and the Arts supplied a grant providing the bulk of funding required. While more fundraising was still required, the 1993 World Cup was confirmed for July.

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The 2016 review of women in the game commission by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) painted a disappointing picture of, among other things, the support given to the WHITE FERNS’ side over the two decades since the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council was absorbed by NZC. However, at the time of the 1993 World Cup, this new relationship was seen as a massive benefit. Many players noted how much the new arrangement had lightened the financial burden they faced, while correspondents believed it had led to a fitter and better organised team.

A real gutsy team with a common goal and desires. I believe to this day we were the best team there.
– Sarah Illingworth reflects on the 1993 team in a 1999 interview


 

The 1993 Women’s Cricket World Cup opened with a series of warm-up matches that gave the visiting teams a chance to acclimatise to conditions. Given that the New Zealand players hadn’t played a meaningful match since January, and with limited opportunities to play for county or league sides, the warm-ups were invaluable match practice.

New Zealand’s preparation consisted of three games, played against England B, Surrey, and the South-East of England. These opponents proved to be no match for a side that had bonded and found their touch quickly: Surrey’s 92 was the highest total any of these teams could manage, while New Zealand passed 200 with relative ease on each occasion. The results would set the tone for New Zealand’s tournament.


 

The tournament began on the 20th of July with all eight teams in action around England. On opening day, the teams with the most World Cup experience (Australia, England, India, and New Zealand) showed they were a class above the rest (Netherlands, Denmark, West Indies, and Ireland).

In the case of New Zealand and Ireland, the result was a 7-wicket win in a game reduced to 39-overs aside – the tournament still being played as 60-over matches. Ireland, after winning the toss and deciding to bat, reached 82 for 6 in their allocation. The match reinforced New Zealand’s growing reputation as the best fielding side in the world as they claimed three run outs.

In their reply, New Zealand cruised to the total in a little over an hour, needing less than 20 overs. There was a slight cause for alarm when they lost Penny Kinsella, Debbie Hockley, and Trudy Anderson in a period where they added just two runs but Maia Lewis and captain Sarah Illingworth guided them to the total with Lewis hitting six 4s in a game-high 32*.


 

The next day saw the second round of matches with New Zealand travelling 75kms to the other side of London to face the home side at Beckingham. In contrast, England’s journey was less than 20kms from their opening day venue.

If the travel and a second game in as many days had an effect, it looked like it was a damaging one for the New Zealanders. After being asked to bat, the visitors reached 100 for the loss of 5 wickets as many of the top-order got starts without kicking on. From there, it got even worse – only 27 runs were added and New Zealand were all out. With England having hit 286-3 against Denmark the previous day, it was hard to see their line-up struggling to surpass 127.

But this New Zealand side were a different proposition from any which had attended a World Cup before and their sublime fielding was about to win them a game. Leading their effort was an 18-year-old playing just her 6th ODI: Emily Drumm.

After hitting a game-high 24, Drumm was the instigator of three run outs in an innings where New Zealand claimed five. Catherine Campbell and Karen Gunn created much of the pressure that led to the wickets, bowling through the middle of the innings and each only going for 14 runs from their 12 overs. England were bowled out for 102, a 25-run victory brought about by one of the best fielding displays seen in a World Cup.

As captain that day I felt as if I knew what was going to happen before it did in the field. [It was the] best fielding performance I’ve ever been involved in.
– New Zealand captain Sarah Illingworth on the win over England

New Zealand’s fielding prowess was getting them noticed, particularly among the other teams. Their next opponents, Denmark, had taken the inspiration on board but their batting wouldn’t give them much chance to put it in to practice: they were bowled out for 93. New Zealand cruised to a 9-wicket win with well-over 40 overs remaining in their chase.

The Danish coach told them to go out there and field like New Zealanders. That is an outrageously good complement.
– Penny Kinsella recounts the praise given to the fielding skills of the 1993 New Zealand side

The Netherlands fared even worse: making just 40 and taking 54.2 overs to do so. Jennifer Turner was the chief destroyer as she claimed 5 wickets for 5 runs, the third best figures in women’s World Cups. New Zealand used six bowlers, none of whom had an economy rate of more than 1.00. The reply was a formality as Debbie Hockley (13*) and Penny Kinsella (24*) scored the 41 runs required in 41 minutes.

The next side to suffer the fate of facing the New Zealanders were the West Indies, playing in their first tournament under that banner. The result was a simple 7-wicket win for New Zealand as they chased down 96 with ease, in spite of losing Maia Lewis with the score on 95.

The game was remarkable for another feat, however, as Julie Harris claimed New Zealand’s first ODI hat-trick. Had it not been for England’s Carole Hodges against Denmark a week earlier, it would’ve been the first in women’s World Cups. After the first ball of her second spell was swung away for three runs, Harris looked to ensure it wasn’t an expensive return to the bowling crease:

[With the second ball] I appealed for LBW – and she was given out, which was interesting because I thought it was close, but possibly lucky. The next one though was dead straight and I knew it was plumb: sure enough, she was on her way straight away. Then Sarah Illingworth said to me, you’re on a hat trick so let’s bring the field in. I said, don’t worry about it. I suppose I didn’t expect to get another one – but the fourth ball of the over hit the pad again and it was plumb. It was perfect.
– Julie Harris recounts her hat trick in a 1994 edition of NZ Cricket News


 

By this point in the competition, New Zealand were the only unbeaten team with Australia having fallen to England. Surprisingly, a sterner test was to be found in the Indian side who put pressure on the New Zealand batting and restricted them to 154 for 8. It would’ve been worse had it not been for a stoic innings from Hockley. Opening the innings, she carried her bat, facing 160 balls to finish on 53*. She hit just one boundary.

Again, the fielding of the New Zealanders was exceptional with three run outs and, by now, typically economical bowling leading them to a 42-run win. Although they remained unbeaten, they still had to deal with Australia. A loss would’ve put the big three nations on equal points with dreaded net run rate calculations being forced in to play to determine which two would contest the final.


 

Australia won the toss and took the initiative, opting to bat. While they struggled to build partnerships, Australia fought hard against the usual economical bowling, reaching 63 for 3. From there, however, they had no answer and lost their last 7 wickets for just 14 runs. New Zealand had bowled Australia out for their lowest ODI score ever: 77.

While all of the bowlers played their roles to perfection, the star of the performance was their captain and wicketkeeper, Sarah Illingworth. With 6 dismissals (4 catches and 2 stumpings), Illingworth set a world record which remains today. Across London the very same day, in a strange statistical quirk, India’s Venkatacher Kalpana set the same record, claiming an amazing 5 stumpings and a catch in their win over Denmark.

New Zealand’s openers were focused on inflicting a resounding defeat on their neighbours, and they delivered. Hockley (38*) and Kinsella (35*) saw them to victory with more than 40 overs to spare. Australia had never lost an ODI by 10 wickets before and they haven’t lost by that margin since.

PHOTOS FROM MAIA LEWIS' 93 WC ALBUM

Click on an image to enlarge
Maia Lewis Collection, nzcricketmuseum.co.nz

On August 1st 1993, New Zealand played in their first World Cup final, facing their hosts at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s. Having only won a solitary toss through the tournament, it was no surprise when England won and opted to bat in front of around 4000 fans and live TV cameras. The match had garnered significant media attention, particularly because the English men’s side had just lost the Ashes. Now, their side carried the hopes of a nation.

New Zealand claimed an early wicket through their best bowler, Sarah McLauchlan, but for the first time in the tournament they couldn’t build the pressure to restrict their opponents. They were also, uncharacteristically and by their own admission, poor in the field with dropped catches marring their effort. Although no one could pass 50, all but one of the English reached double figures with the bat as they compiled 195 for 5.

In spite of their troubles in the field, the New Zealand reply started off promisingly enough as the top four all reached double figures and they steadily progressed to 70 for 3 with plenty of overs left to launch their final charge. There would be no final charge.

Wickets fell at regular intervals with only a 39-run stand for the 6th wicket between Maia Lewis and Karen Gunn adding any starch. New Zealand were eventually bowled out for 128. England had won the title that had alluded them since they won the inaugural World Cup in 1973.

[. . .] inexperience got the better of most of us that day [and] the tremendous occasion of actually playing at Lord’s was, unfortunately, a contributing factor.
– Emily Drumm’s take on the reasons why New Zealand lost the 1993 final