Home News Half a Century Later: Revisiting the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup

Half a Century Later: Revisiting the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup

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First Women's Cricket World Cup

Image: Rachel Heyhoe Flint holding the 1973 World Cup trophy

Women’s cricket has seen immense growth.

Top teams have now become full-time, and franchise cricket has made a significant mark globally, notably with the recently concluded Women’s Premier League rewarding top performers with hefty salaries.

However, it wasn’t always like this.

Present-day women cricketers owe much to their predecessors, especially the women who partook in the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1973, a tournament that happened two years prior to the first men’s World Cup.

“Playing required immense dedication, and we all had to get back to our regular jobs afterward,” recalls England’s World Cup-winning wicketkeeper, Shirley Hodges.

“During the tournament, a player was so exhausted that she dozed off while driving, waking only when she collided with the crash barrier.”

Thankfully, the player was unscathed, but the incident underscores the tournament’s demanding nature.

Hodges continues: “It was extremely tiring. I recall a game in Bradford, and the very next day, I was expected to play for Sussex in Eastbourne against Trinidad and Tobago.”

This meant a grueling drive exceeding five hours following 120 overs in the field.

Personal sacrifices were common among those who made the event possible. With cricket still an amateur sport during this period, players had to find innovative ways to fund it.

“No one was handing us anything,” Trinidad and Tobago’s captain Louise Browne recalls. “We organized barbeques and curry-ques to fund our cricket.”

“We had to resort to all sorts of means,” chimes in England’s Enid Bakewell. “I once dug up potatoes and sold them on a stand at my driveway at prices cheaper than the opposite grocery store.

Eventually, I depleted my stock and had to buy potatoes from that very store.”

Fundraising was half the battle. The other half was finding understanding employers.

“I was working as a PE teacher then,” says England player Chris Watmough. “I was fortunate to have a supportive headteacher.”

In the midst of all this, England’s legendary captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint – who later became Baroness Heyhoe Flint – bore the responsibility of organizing the team while simultaneously shouldering the tournament’s weight.

“Rachael Heyhoe Flint is synonymous with women’s cricket,” Browne observes. “She was a trailblazer. Her contribution to women’s cricket has earned her a place in history.”

Interestingly, the idea of the World Cup was hers…

Friendship that Changed Lives
The first Women’s World Cup was a joint endeavor of former Wolverhampton Wanderers owner Sir Jack Hayward and Rachel Heyhoe Flint.

When seeking sponsorship for an unofficial tour of Jamaica, Heyhoe Flint wrote a plea to Wolverhampton-born millionaire Charles Hayward.

Fortunately, the letter was handed to his sports-enthusiast son Jack, who was touched by her appeal and presented Heyhoe Flint with £1,700 to fund the initial two tours to the West Indies.

One night in 1971, over brandy and extended discussions, the duo conceived the idea of a World Cup.

Jack infamously proclaimed, “I love cricket, I love women, why shouldn’t I sponsor women’s cricket?”

Before they could kick off World Cup preparations, Heyhoe Flint and Hayward needed approval from the Women’s Cricket Association (WCA), the organization responsible for women’s cricket in England from 1926 to 1998.

Hayward proposed a £40,000 donation to WCA chairperson Sylvia Swinburne – an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“The tournament definitely elevated women’s cricket,” asserts Megan Lear, “but

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup

When was the first Women’s Cricket World Cup held?

The inaugural Women’s Cricket World Cup took place in 1973.

Who won the first Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The first Women’s Cricket World Cup was won by England.

Who was the captain of the winning team in the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The England team, which won the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup, was captained by Rachel Heyhoe Flint.

How were the cricket players funded during the 1973 Women’s World Cup?

During the 1973 Women’s World Cup, players had to fund their own cricket due to the sport’s amateur status. They used creative methods such as organizing barbeques and selling potatoes.

How was the idea of the Women’s Cricket World Cup conceived?

The idea of the Women’s Cricket World Cup was conceived by Rachel Heyhoe Flint and Sir Jack Hayward during a discussion over brandy in 1971.

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

The 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup saw participation from teams that were members of the International Women’s Cricket Council, including Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, along with an International XI and a Young England side.

What format was used in the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup was organized in a round-robin format, with games predominantly played on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 20 June to 28 July.

Who were the top batters of the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup?

The top batters of the 1973 Women’s Cricket World Cup were Enid Bakewell, Lynne Thomas, and Rachel Heyhoe Flint, who scored 264, 263, and 256 runs respectively.

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MikePatterson June 23, 2023 - 8:02 am

Wow, didnt know womens cricket was a thing before the mens! And Rachel Heyhoe Flint was quite the pioneer it seems. Interesting stuff.

AnnieD June 23, 2023 - 9:54 am

Inspirational to see what they went through and how far the women’s game has come since then. The sacrifices they made, really brings a tear to my eye. Cheers to these ladies!

GraceF June 23, 2023 - 6:52 pm

I’m genuinely amazed at how they managed everything with full-time jobs on top of their cricket commitments, They truly paved the way for the women in the sport today.

CricketLover21 June 23, 2023 - 9:06 pm

I can’t belive they had to fund themselves back then! Can’t even imagine the level of dedication they must have had to play the game. Respect to these women.

Billy87 June 24, 2023 - 1:25 am

just read about the final. Imagine that tension haha, England vs Australia deciding who takes the cup. What a classic!


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