January 26, 2000

Betty Archdale dies aged 92

Betty Archdale, the captain of the England team in the first ever women's Test series, died in a Sydney nursing home on January 11, 2000 at the age of 92.

Helen Elizabeth Archdale was born on 21 August 1907 in London. At the age of her five her mother was imprisoned for taking part in a suffragette demonstration which became violent.

Having played hockey and lacrosse at school, Archdale represented Kent at cricket. When a women's cricket tour of Australia was devised for the 1934/35 season, partly as a means of healing some of the wounds created by the men's Bodyline series two years earlier, Archdale was named as captain by the England selectors.

The tour, in which attendances of around three to five thousand per day were the norm, saw England play three Tests against Australia, at Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, winning the series 2-0. Archdale played against Australia again at home in 1937 and would have toured once more in 1939-40, until the outbreak of the Second World War cancelled further plans. She emigrated to Australia after the War and played no further serious cricket.

Following her retirement as a player, she was the president of the Sydney University Womens Cricket Club in the 1950's. She conducted the toss of the coin for the Australia versus England Test at Perth in December 1984 marking the fiftieth anniversary of women's Test cricket.

In five Test matches she scored 133 runs at 26.60 with a top score of 32 not out, achieved in England's very first Test innings at the Brisbane Exhibition Ground. Her record in four matches as England captain was three wins and one loss.

Archdale achieved distinction in a number of fields outside of cricket. She completed her BA at McGill University in Canada before obtaining her LLB and LLM (bachelor and master of law) at London University, following which she was called to the Bar. She served with the WRENS (Womens Royal Navy Service) during the Second World War, and was awarded an MBE for war service.

After emigrating to Australia, Archdale became principal of Sydney University Womens College and achieved national prominence in the 1960's as a school headmistress for her innovative approach to education. She also spent time as a television panellist in the sixties.

A memorial service for Miss Archdale will be held at the University of Sydney's Great Hall on February 14.