1973 - England/Wales
It is one of the more perplexing parts of cricket's history that the women actually held a World Cup before the men - in 1973 as opposed to 1975.
This was largely due to businessman and philanthropist Sir Jack Hayward, who, after discussions with women’s cricket promoter and England captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, contributed towards its costs, having already done much to promote women’s cricket in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Indeed, it was due to Hayward’s earlier sponsorship of England tours to the West Indies that Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago came to take part in the inaugural event.
They, along with an International XI and Young England XI, made up the numbers, alongside New Zealand, Australia and hosts England, after South Africa - women cricket’s other Test side - were not invited due to apartheid. Five South Africans were originally selected in the International XI but were forced to withdraw after the Caribbean countries threatened a boycott.
The type of cricket on show back then was vastly different to that which will take place in India. Back then, the competition was 60 overs aside, the women played in skirts, and the players on show read like a veritable who's who of women’s cricketing history.
It was the winning captain Rachel Heyhoe-Flint and Enid Bakewell - two of women cricket’s leading ladies, the former subsequently becoming the first woman to be inducted into the ICC’s Hall of Fame - who appropriately played starring roles in the final.
Bakewell made 118 with Heyhoe-Flint 64 as England beat arch rivals Australia. The match wasn’t even meant to be a final with the seven teams playing in a round-robin format - it just so happened that the 21st and last game in Birmingham was between England and Australia, who were separated by just a point at the top of the table.
The tournament was played over five weeks in midsummer in parts of the country as diverse as Bradford, St Albans, Tring and Swansea.
The trophy was presented by Princess Anne with the England team then invited to Downing Street for a reception with Prime Minister Ted Heath. It truly was cricket, and an England, of a different era, but was to prove transformative and hugely influential in the effect that it would have on women’s cricket.
1978 - India
Just four teams participated in the 1978 World Cup, which was hosted in Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Patna and Hyderabad, where Australia again took on England in the final.
New Zealand were the other team to join the hosts and the 1973 finalists and the six-game tournament ended with Australia beating England to the title courtesy of an eight-wicket win in the final game of the tournament.
Australia began their campaign with a 66-run win over New Zealand, Wendy Hills hitting 64 and New Zealand closing on 111 for eight in reply to 177 all out. No fewer than six New Zealanders were making their ODI debut in this game.
Kolkata’s Eden Gardens hosted India’s opener against England which was also India’s maiden ODI. They fared badly, bowled out for 63 and only taking the wicket of Megan Lear on their way to a nine-wicket defeat. England were on their way.
Next up for India was New Zealand and they fared dramatically better, scoring 130 for nine but again could only take one wicket as they slipped to a second straight defeat. Barb Bevege stroked an unbeaten 67 to get New Zealand off the mark.
England then played New Zealand and despite Bevege hitting another half-century, the reigning champions won by seven wickets. Bevege made 57 and her team 157 but England reached their target in 40.1 overs to keep their hopes of retaining the title alive.
On the same day, Australia hammered India by 71 runs to maintain their unbeaten record. Sharon Tredrea top scored with 56 and India, replying to 150 for eight, were bowled out for 79 as Peta Cook took three wickets.
Five days later, England and Australia met in a repeat of the 1973 final but this time the tables were turned. England struggled and could only reach 96 for eight, having been 28 for six as Tredrea (4-26) ripped through their batting line-up.
Although Glynis Hullah removed Lorraine Hill and Wendy Hills to reduce Australia to six for two, an unbroken 94-run partnership between captain Margaret Jennings (57 not out) and Janette Tredrea (37 not out) sealed Australia’s maiden World Cup success.
Jennings (127), Bevege (126) and England’s Lynne Thomas (109) were the only players to score more than 100 runs in the competition while Australia’s Sharyn Hill was the leading wicket-taker with seven.
John Pennington and Daniel Grummitt
© Cricket World 2013
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