1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a series, 1970

Enid Bakewell - champion woman cricketer

Netta Rheinberg

Women have played a far more important part in the development of cricket than many people realise. W. G. Grace and his brothers learnt the technicalities of the game from their mother, the only woman who has appeared in Wisden's list of Births and Deaths. Mrs. Foster inspired her seven sons at a very early age and long before most of them played with such distinction for Worcestershire. Here tribute is paid to Enid Bakewell. She achieved the wonderful feat of scoring over 1,000 runs and taking more than 100 wickets for the England Women's Team in their 1968-69 tour of Australia and New Zealand.



Enid Bakewell pads up at Crystal Palace © The Cricketer
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A number of women over the years have been outstanding players, but only in comparatively recent times have records been kept of their performances. In the early years of the Women's Cricket Association, founded in 1926, no official statistics relating to memorable feats were registered, though some not too reliable information can be gleaned from Women's Cricket, which began publication in 1930. We do not know whether before 1969 any woman has achieved the double in a season, though I have reason to believe that there may well have been some, both in this country and overseas. In the case of international tours, however, a number of records have been kept, it being quite rightly thought that these indeed give worthwhile information as to players' abilities and performances over a number of first-class games. We have access to statistics covering the ten international tours since 1934 (five home and five away), but the only comprehensive figures available are those for Test matches, and from these any necessary comparisons must be drawn and conclusions reached. It is in this light that Enid Bakewell's feats must be assessed and Enid herself would be the first to acknowledge that there may have been others before her who have registered notable achievements in top-class cricket, but whose performances have remained unpublished and largely unnoticed.

Mrs. Enid Bakewell (née Turton) cannot remember when she first took up a bat, but the game of cricket attracted her at an early age and in 1950, when she was nine years old, she joined the local boys playing on a small field close to her home as, in her own words, "there were too few girls available." The only child of a non-cricketing family, her parents encouraged her enthusiasm, purchasing and supplying her with all her gear. At her Primary School at Newstead, Enid was soon better at cricket than the boys and when at Brincliffe County Grammar School, Nottingham, the boys used to borrow her gear.

At fourteen Enid had already graduated from her club, Notts Casuals W.C.C., to her county team. In those days she was a quiet, steady, right-hand opening bat, concentrating on staying at the wicket. The lessons of concentration and watchfulness learnt in those early years provided a solid basis for the future, as she found later, when the opportunity arose, that she was not only able to stay at the wicket, but also to score easily.

Mention of Enid Turton's batting ability first came in June 1957 when, at 16 years of age, she scored 43 not out against Leicester out of a total of 101, A month later she followed this with 56 not out in the return match, an encouraging start for a youngster. Two years later Enid entered Dartford College of Physical Education, graduating in 1959, the same year in which she was chosen to tour Holland with the W.C.A. team of young and promising players. At this stage Enid did not take her bowling seriously and it was only later, when she was coached at her club by Edna Valentine, now its President, and Eileen White, then Hon. Secretary of the County Association, that she began to think about her left arm slow bowling, modelling it on that of Tony Lock, even to the extent of taking the same number of paces in the same run up round the umpire. Later still, in 1967, having reached top class cricket, Enid started seriously to concentrate on her bowling. "As a Nottingham girl" she says "I was torn two ways. When I went to watch Nottinghamshire v. Surrey I admired Tony Lock's bowling and delighted in Peter May's batting, so I sometimes hoped Surrey might win."

In 1963 Enid's name was among the possibles for Test selection against Australia then touring England. She says: "My first feelings were of excitement and surprise tempered somewhat on seeing the full list of names." She failed, however, to gain a place, and in 1966 when the New Zealanders toured England she had married and was having a baby. The recent tour, therefore, provided Mrs. Bakewell with her first Test appearance and her first opportunity to do battle with Australian and New Zealand cricketers; the rest of the story is one of consistent and amazing success.

On receiving the invitation to tour, Mrs. Bakewell, mother of a two-year-old daughter and part-time schoolteacher (to help with funds) found the decision to accept a difficult one, not only on the score of the long separation from her family but also on financial grounds. However, her husband, Colin, a Rolls Royce electrical engineer, was most understanding and her parents at once offered to look after her small daughter while she was away.

Slight of build and small in stature, Enid has been described as diminutive and a tiny blonde. Although she is small, she is athletically built and gives an impression of freshness, alertness and quickwittedness, following many previous cricketers of less than average build in nimbleness of footwork and quick reflex action. Enid's record on the tour of 1,031 runs and 118 wickets is now history. She finished with a batting average of 39.6 in 29 innings and bowling figures of 564.1--1,153--118 -- 9.7. On three occasions, once in Australia and twice in New Zealand, she took eight wickets in an innings, and on nine other occasions five or more wickets. On her first Test appearance against Australia she opened the innings with a maiden century (113) and also as opening batsman scored two consecutive Test centuries against New Zealand in the first innings of the first and second Tests (124 and 114). She scored six half-centuries on the whole tour, and took 10 catches, though ironically enough she dropped an easy chance at a vital stage in the second Test against Australia. This proved to be the only time the pendulum swung the other way for her.

The consistency of her performances caused her opponents to respect her from the start, and the opposing bowlers and batsmen both suffered from the reputation which she built up. Headlines in the Australian and New Zealand press reflected her prowess. "English girl does a Sobers" stated an Adelaide newspaper reporting her top score of 59 against Victoria, followed by her skittling of seven batsmen for 28. Another reported the same performance with "Bakewell routs Vic." The second Test match in New Zealand, won by England by seven wickets, was called Bakewell's match. Her achievements were outstanding. She scored 114 and took four for 68 in the first innings, followed by 66 not out and five for 56 in the second innings. Fittingly amid much excitement, she also scored the single a bare four minutes before the end, to give England their victory, the first win against New Zealand since 1954.

After this performance Enid began to be rated as the world's best woman all-rounder. The comments varied; they outdid each other in praise. The somewhat condescending comment: "Mainstay of an aggressive English knock was Enid Bakewell who played as correctly as any male Test player might have as she moved relentlessly towards her century" contrasted with "an audacious batsman, fast between wickets, who uses her feet better than many Plunket Shield cricketers." As for her bowling, her orthodox left-arm spinners were bowled with skill and consistency. She was able to drift the ball across the batsmen in the slight breeze and straighten it off the pitch with alarming sharpness. This gave an indication of her style, but Enid modestly claims that spin bowlers are only as good as the batsmen make them look. In another match she was reported as giving a fine display of well controlled bowling on a fast, hard pitch, her top spinner being especially worrying.

Despite her successes, Mrs. Bakewell is essentially a modest person, sincerely grateful for the tour experience, believing it to have been on opportunity that will not come again, and the tour Manager describes her as a great team member, unassuming and always helpful.

On her return to England, Enid was accorded a Civic Reception by the Nottingham County Council, at which she was received by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Alderman Mrs. Joan Case, and by Mr. R. A. Garrett, President of Nottingham C.C.C. She received many gifts. Local organisations and societies in Annesley Woodhouse presented her with an engraved silver salver bearing the record of her achievements, together with a cheque towards her expenses. One of her prize possessions is the ball, mounted and inscribed, which she used in Bakewell's match, the second Test in New Zealand at Christchurch. An engraved silver cup was presented to her at Heathrow on her arrival home by one of the men's teams against whom she played in aid of tour funds last season, and when Kirkby Council made her the gift of a dressing-table set, her three-year-old daughter, Lorna, commented loudly and brightly "And what have we got this time?"

Enid's 1968/69 tour performances remain a challenge to women cricketers wherever they may play. They will remain unforgotten, not only by her fellow tourists but also by her opponents in Australia and New Zealand for a long time to come.


BATTING

AUSTRALIA

PlayedInns.Not OutHighest ScoreTotal RunsAverage
Tests36--11318931.5
All matches1117111341926.1

NEW ZEALAND

Tests351124412103.0
All matches912212461261.2
Complete Tour202931241,03139.6

BOWLING

AUSTRALIA

PlayedOversMaidensRunsWicketsAverage
Tests390.520235733.5
All matches11211.3476265311.8

NEW ZEALAND

Tests3144.2582421912.7
All matches9352.4160527658.1
Complete Tour20563.72071,1531189.7

© John Wisden & Co