St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Women's Cricket St George's Park - England Tours South Africa - 1960
England Tours South Africa - 1960

It was Test match time again. A more subdued tone perhaps, but all the trimmings associated with a feast of big cricket were in evidence - intense net practices, autograph hunters, photographers, reporters and, of course, butterflies in the stomach.

Click image to enlarge
The Springbok openers, Eleanor Lambert and Joy Irwin (right), walk out to open the innings of the first women's cricket Test match ever to be played in South Africa. The match was being played between England and South Africa on the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club ground.
The scene was St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, December, 1960. The players were getting ready for the first women's cricket Test match ever in South Africa - played on the same Port Elizabeth Cricket Club ground where the first ever men's cricket Test in South Africa was played against England in 1889 - when South Africa lost by eight wickets.

The gentry of Port Elizabeth came to the historic ground, saw the first women's Test match and were conquered.

The women were delighted to receive, among many others, a telegram of good wishes from the South African Cricket Association sent on behalf of men cricketers by Algie Frames, secretary of the SACA. It read "Best wishes for a pleasant and successful Test series."

The manageress of the South African team was Marjory Robison, who attended the Collegiate School for Girls in Port Elizabeth.

"Test match fever" took on a new meaning as Helen Sharpe led the white-skirted England team on the field, closely followed by South Africa's opening batsmen, Joy Irwin and Eleanor Lambert. On the field, as one would expect, were 13 rather nervous women. In the stands was a crowd of about 500, mostly men watching the "spectacle" of women playing "a man's game."

But, being gentlemen, they chose to be well-mannered, even if somewhat patronising, spectators. A hurried snick was applauded with all the fervour of a full-blooded drive. Even a leg-bye brought a ripple of hard clapping.

But as the morning wore on, the whole atmosphere of the game changed.

After a quiet first hour, a few lusty hooks from Pam Hollet and Barbara Cairncross showed that the women really were in their element. Several gentlemen (forgetting themselves) stood up and yelled: "Shot, sir!"

And there were genuine gasps of amazement as the English women swooped on the ball in the field and sent in some bullet-like returns.

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Official Souvenir Programme of the Inaugural Visitby an English Women's Team
Two other aspects of the women's game appealed to the men. The first was their vociferous appealing - although the umpires, made of sterner stuff, were not always impressed. By the lunch break, the men had been won over, The match was yet to be won, but the women had won their major battle.

It got off to a nervous start by South Africa, who were obviously very conscious of the occasion. Things warmed up as play progressed and the after-lunch period was particularly attractive.

Some of the English fielding was outstanding and their throwing in from middle range could not have been bettered by many men. Their bowling was steady without being particularly penetrative.

Esme Irwin swung the ball viciously to the off, but was not particularly dangerous as too many balls were bowled outside the off-stump.

Eileen Hurly, of Transvaal, played a wide variety of shots, and used the square cut better than any of her colleagues.

Another classic batsman was the skipper, Sheilagh Nefdt. There were also good innings from Barbara Cairncross, Pam Hollett and Eleanor Lambert.

Pam Hollett impressed by the manner in which she got well behind the flight of the ball.

A strange coincidence was the fact that the first ball bowled in a woman's Test in Port Elizabeth was sent down by Esme Irwin of England, and the first, run scored went to the credit of Joy Irwin of South Africa.

Sixteen-year-old Audrey Jackson, Eastern Province's only representative in the Springbok team, became the first South African bowler ever to take a wicket in a women's cricket Test when she trapped the England opener, Smith, leg before in her first over. She received a special cheer when she claimed the wicket for no runs. Umpire Tim Gibbon gave the verdict.

The St George's match was unique from another point of view as well - the first casualty in women's cricket Test occurred during the game. Ruth Westbrook, England's wicket-keeper was struck on the eye when Barbara Cairncross hit a ball to the fine-leg boundary. Ruth left the field for about five minutes and returned with a piece of plaster above the eye.

There are a handful of batsmen who qualified for the list of batsmen who have scored centuries on their first Test appearances. A few others know the frustration, the chagrin of failing to achieve this distinction by a few runs.

Switching to women's cricket, there is one South African who will appreciate the bitter disappointment associated with such an experience.

Eileen Hurly, the little Southern Transvaal player with a square cut like a man's, stroked her way with the aid of ten well spaced boundaries to 96, when she ran out of partners.

To say that she "ran out of partners" was to use the expression with a double meaning, for three of her partners were run out, all avoidably.

Click image to enlarge
The South African women's cricket team looked smart in their Springbok uniforms when they attended a Mayoral tea party along with the opposing English girls' team.
Back (left to right):Barbara Cairncross, Eleanor Lambert, Yvonne van Mentz, Lorna Ward
Middle: Jean McKenzie, Pam Hollett, Jennifer Gove
Front: Audrey Jackson, Sheila Nefdt, Marjory Robinson (manageress), Eileen Hurly, Jean McNaughton, Joy Irwin
It seemed that South African teams of either sex have a traditionally profound capacity for running themselves out. But for these tragic blunders, not only would Eileen Hurly have reached a thoroughly good hundred, but the Springbok girls would surely have reached the region of 500 runs.

In the second day of the Test the South Africans gained a narrow 24-run lead over England. With one day left, the stage was set for an interesting finish, South Africa, with 121 for five in their second innings, having a lead of 145.

England were out for 187 in reply to the South African first innings total of 211.

The best South African bowler was Lorna Ward of Natal who claimed four wickets for 47 runs in 23 overs.

Top scorer for England was Westbrook with 58, while Marshall scored 32.

In South Africa's second innings Lambert (34), Hollett (21) and Hurly, who hit 96 not out in the first innings and 38 in the second, were the leading batsmen.

While many of the players bowled accurately, batted fluently and fielded with surprising agility, the batsmen often allowed loose bowling to go unpunished.

Sheelagh Nefdt, the Springbok captain, took no chances on the last day of the first women's cricket Test at St George's Park.

By 2.30pm she had built up a commanding lead of 280 runs with two wickets still in hand and three hours left for play.

Nefdt said at lunch time that the English girls could score at the rate of 80 runs an hour and she was not going to toss away her advantage.

Members of the public, however, disagreed and she was exhorted on several occasions to close the innings which she finally did at 2.40pm with the score 260 for 8 leaving England 285 to win in 170 minutes.

The cricket was slow at the start in the morning but there was a brisk partnership of 67 runs in 67 minutes for the eighth wicket between Sheelagh Neft and Jennifer Gove. Of these 40 were scored by Gove who played some delightful shots on the off-side and was just short of a six in front of the B stand sight-screen.

She was eventually caught near the boundary by Ann Sanders - an excellent catch. Nefdt, playing a most accomplished innings, went on to score 62 not out, supported by Lorna Ward.

ENGLAND - First Innings
K Smith Ibw, b Jackson
H Sharpe run out
R Westbrook, c Lambert, -b Ward
A Ratcliffe, c Gove, b Ward
R Heyhoe, run out
0 Marshall, c McNaughton, b Ward
A Saunders, b Nefdt
M Hunt, b Ward
M Rutherford, b Van Mentz
S Plant, c Hollett, b Van Mentz
E Irwin, not out
Extras
Total
1
20
58
14
14
32
1
6
4
16
1
20
187
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-67,3-103, 4-104, 5-150, 6-155, 7-159, 8-166, 9-170.
Bowling: Ward 23-5-57-4; Jackson 5-0-6-1; McNaughton 5-1-17-0; Van Mentz 21.1-4-32-2;Nefdt 11-1-42-1; Irwin 2-0-4-0; Gove 8-3-15-0; Hollett 1-0-4-0.

SOUTH AFRICA - First Innings - 211
Lambert, Ibw b Saunders
Irwin, c Heyhoe, b Irwin
Hollett, b Marshall
Cairncross, run out
Hurley, run out
Nefdt, not out
Van Mentz; c Westbrook, b Irwin
McNaughton, b Irwin
Gove, c Sanders, b Plant
Ward, not out
Extras
Total (for 8 wkts. declared)
36
8
21
9
38
62
0
40
17
16
260
Bowling; Irwin 3/42, Sanders 1/35, Marshall 1/20, Plant 1/24.

SOUTH AFRICA - Second Innings
E Lambert Ibw b Saunders
J Irwin, c Heyhoe, b Irwin
P Hollett, b Marshall
B Cairncross, run out
E Hurley, run out
S Nefdt, not out
Y van Mentz, c Westbrook, b Irwin 15 McNaughton, b Irwin
Gove, c Sanders, b Plant
Ward, not out
Extras
Total (for eight wickets)
36
8
21
9
38
62
0
40
17
16
260
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-42, 3-59, 4-113, 5-117.
Bowling : Irwin 3/42; Sanders 1/35; Marshall 1/20; Plant 1/24.

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