Poster from 1890. Guess the lady batting looks a little bit nervous…
I was listening to an interview on our audio archive this morning. Ken Medlock talks about all kinds of cricket related topics, ( http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/Details/archive/110000610), I was really interested by what he had to say about cricket balls and how they are made, during this section the interviewer David Rayvern Allen suddenly drops in a comment about blue cricket balls being used for the women’s game so ladies wouldn’t be frightened by the red balls! A myth surely? Like piano legs being covered up for decency’s sake in Victorian times. I had to find out – and found evidence that they did exist almost straight away.
According to an exhibition catalogue from a 1963 exhibition of women’s cricketana
“The BLUE BALL made specially by Alfred Reader at the request of Gamages Ltd. in 1897 to ensure that lady cricketers would not swoon at the sight of a red one did not prove practical as it could not be seen again the background of grass and sky. Of interest is the fact that the weight of this ball, of which a limited supply was produced, is 5 ozs., the same as has been used by women cricketers since 1926. The ball on exhibit is the only preserved memento of this curious experiment.”
Where is this ball? We don’t have it, it doesn’t say who owned it in the catalogue – I want to see it! If anyone has seen a blue ball can you let me know? I would also like to hear from any ladies (or indeed gents) who have ever found themselves in a state of terror at the sight of a red ball. This is all intriguing stuff!
…actually, they ARE pretty frightening!
(Bibliography – 1745-1963: Exhibition of Women’s Cricketana by Molly Hide and Netta Rheinberg.)
Photography by Alan Rees.
Alan, Andrew, My All time Hero, Robert, Keith
It’s a nice picture. You might well say “there’s nothing wrong with it”. But look a little closer. See anything missing? Yes! You’ve got it! ME! Where am I? My all time hero comes for a tour of Lord’s, has a photo taken with my colleagues in the Long Room and I’m nowhere in sight.
The answer is that I was dying of the flu, of all the rotten luck!
…meanwhile. Should I try photoshopping this into the picture above?
I’d really been looking forward to my last week at Lord’s before Christmas. I knew Strauss was coming in on Tuesday, Christmas party on Friday and I had some great ideas for my week before Christmas blogging (including Zoe’s top five cricketers of the year and a tribute to Diana Rait Kerr, the first Lord’s curator and one of the first lady members, who passed away last week), instead I’m afraid I’m going to use this blog to moan about my misfortune!
My misery was tempered ever so slightly by this lovely signed photo that Lord’s photography manager Claire Skinner got for me – but overall it’s still been a rubbish week!
Women: central to a cricket club?
Something that has struck me in listening to the Taking the Field stories is how central women have always been to most of the clubs, these days clubs have thriving girls and women’s teams but in the past women were also important as spectators, administrators or for under taking the vitally important role of making the cricket tea! Here at the MCC women have not had such a central role for quite as long as shown in this very sweet letter found by MCC archivist Robert Curphey among the secretaries correspondence.
A copy of the reply was found along side.
I’m not sure I like the way he agrees that her ‘friends are entirely correct’ – thus she is foolish! Guess she’s had the last laugh as Betty Archdale, Edna Barker, Audrey Collins, Carole Cornthwaite, Jackie Court, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, Sheila Hill, Norma Izard, Diana Rait Kerr and Netta Rheinberg became the first honorary lady members in 1999.
It makes me feel very sad that women had to wait until 1999 to be allowed to become members of the MCC, but I suppose perhaps I should just celebrate that we got there in the end, though I wish it had been in time for Madeline Gale to get her dearest wish.
Hear some happier tales of women and cricket at http://www.takingthefield.com/ . My Favourites include :
The sky’s the limit – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/skys-limit
The girls and girlies of Spondon C.C. – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/girls-and-girlies-spondon-cc
The tea ladies and Royal Hill Road – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/spondon-ccs-grounds-1-tea-ladies-and-royal-hill-road
(Letters supplied by Robert Curphey at the MCC Archive. Photograph of ‘Miss Cricket Queen’ from Yorkshire County Cricket Club: American tour 1964, supplied by MCC Library).