There are several notable dates in the early history of New Zealand cricket, from the country’s first interprovincial match in 1860, to our first Test match in 1930. Amongst all the others there is one date that is, almost always, overlooked: March 26 1910. On this day, Easter Saturday, at Christchurch’s Hagley Park, Canterbury met Wellington in New Zealand’s first women’s interprovincial match.
Like many other Commonwealth countries, women playing cricket was not a new phenomenon in New Zealand in 1910. Records of the game, here and overseas, have included references to men and women playing the game from about the same point in history. The earliest games, involving both men and women, tended to be played as fundraisers, exhibitions, or between “married” and “single” teams. However, men’s sides organised themselves into clubs and representive teams as soon as interest grew, for women it simply took longer for that interest to reach critical mass. As such, organised women’s cricket was a relatively new development in 1910. Reports from 1909 indicate that Wellington and Dunedin each had three women’s cricket clubs, while Auckland’s first club was established that year. The development of women’s cricket in Canterbury isn’t noted but, given their overall strength in the game, it’s likely that they were at the forefront.
This is emphasised by the result of the game played at Easter 1910: Canterbury won by more than 230 runs. Details of the match are a little sketchy – different reports feature different scores – but there were some exceptional performances; including Miss A. Scott’s 61, Miss I Scott’s 56, Miss Mahoney’s 4 for 65, and Miss I Curlett’s 4 for 11. Curlett’s figures are worth noting as she was the only Canterbury bowler to take a wicket in spite of Wellington making just 41; the other six were run out.
For Canterbury: Miss L Robinson, Miss I Curlett (probably Ilma Muriel Curlett), Miss Y Rose (likely to be Yetta Grace Rose), Miss I Scott, Miss I Bassett, Miss A Scott (could be Annie Alice Scott or her cousin Alice Scott – who was also known as Anna, just to confuse matters), Miss I Jones, Miss E Martin, Miss C Scott (probably Clara Mary Scott), Miss N Chapman, Miss E Wilson.
For Wellington: Miss Brown, Miss M Henderson, Miss N MacKay, Miss Mahoney, Miss P MacKay, Miss Poole, Miss Twohill (possibly Eileen Francis Twohill), Mrs Swanston (Captain), Miss Spence, Miss Taylor, Miss Henderson.
Although this match is recognised as New Zealand’s first interprovincial women’s match, very little detail is known about it. Some reports indicate that the teams selected to represent their provinces were essentially drawn from two clubs: Opawa in Christchurch and Wellington North in the capital. In spite of this, there are players in both teams whose names appear for other clubs in their regions. The scorecards refer to the players only by their initials and not a single player’s first name is noted. When the return match was played a year later at Kelburn Park in Wellington, only Canterbury’s Ida Collins was named in full.
We think it’s important to fill in the blanks from this game and the players involved so we can further celebrate their pioneering role in New Zealand Cricket. If you know anything about the game or the players involved, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll keep you updated with what we find.