The first ever women’s cricket match was played on Gosden Common near Guildford in Surrey.
The match was reported in The Reading Mercury and featured teams from the villages of Bramley and Hambledon. The newspaper made the point that all the players were dressed in all white, but those from Bramley wore blue ribbons while the Hambledon ‘maids’ wore red.
Although the identities of the players are unknown the final result, which saw the team from Hambledon beat Bramley with a score of 127 to 119, was recorded. Furthermore the article highlighted that, ‘the girls bowled, batted, ran and catched as well as most men could do in that game.’
The majority of early women’s cricket matches were local fixtures played in the communities around Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. Often associated with heavy betting, the sport quickly spread and gained a level of respectability in 1777 when Elizabeth Smith-Stanley, the Countess of Derby, organised a match in which upper-class women made up the two teams.
Despite the growing popularity of women’s cricket, the first women’s cricket club wasn’t formed until 1887. The White Heather Club was established in North Yorkshire, and was followed three years later by the chronologically-confusingly named Original English Lady Cricketers. However, a national organisation for women’s cricket wasn’t established until 1926 when the Women’s Cricket Association was founded. Under its guidance the England team played its first series of test matches in Australia in 1934-5. The Women’s Cricket Association was eventually absorbed by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 1998.