Betty Rebecca Wilson
November 21, 1921, Melbourne, Victoria
January 22, 2010 (aged 88y 62d)
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Betty Wilson was one of women cricket's greatest players, and her tag as the female Bradman is not untoward. As a child she was a talented, natural athlete who could "run like a hare". A right-hand bat, offspinner and superb close fielder, she learned her game by playing against a lamp post in the street and hitting a ball enclosed in one of her mother's stocking suspended from a clothes line.
She joined Collingwood women's team when she was only ten. At 14 she was in Victoria's 2nd XI, and in the full side by 16. She had to wait until after the war, by which time she was 26, to play Test cricket for Australia, but wasted no time in making a mark.
On her debut in New Zealand, she scored 90 and took 4 for 37 and 6 for 28. She had refused a proposal of marriage to play, as at the time married women were not supposed to indulge in such frivolities. "Why would anyone get married in preference to playing cricket for Australia?" she asked. On her Ashes debut the following season she scored 111, the first Test hundred against England, and took nine wickets.
She toured England in 1951, turning down another proposal of marriage to make the trip, staying on for two and a half years at the end of the summer. Her final series was in 1957-58 when against England she was again outstanding. At St Kilda she took 7 for 7 on a drying pitch, including the first hat-trick by a woman in a Test, and 4 for 19 in the second innings. She also made exactly 100. She bowed out with a brace of hundreds and 21 wickets at 9.71.
She was a consummate professional in an amateur era. Her team-mates practised once a week whereas she trained every day. She left nothing to chance, even starching her hat so it wouldn't flop around while she batted.
In 1985 she became the first woman cricketer to be inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame and that year the Under-21 National Women's Cricket Championship was renamed the Betty Wilson Shield. In 2005 she was awarded an honorary baggy green with the number 25.
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