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    Collingwood Ladies Team, c. 1934, courtesy of Betty Wilson.
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Wilson, Rebecca (Betty) (1921 - 2010)

Born
21 November 1921
Collingwood, Victoria, Australia
Died
22 January 2010
Occupation
Cricketer and Sportswoman
Alternative Names
  • Wilson, Betty

Summary

Betty Wilson was the first test cricketer, male or female, to complete the match double of 100 runs and ten wickets in a test match.

Details

The daughter of a Hoddle Street, Collingwood, bootmaker, Betty Wilson was a talented, natural athlete who could 'run like a hare'. She began playing club cricket at the age of ten when, after impressing with her ability to return the ball from the boundary, she was recruited from the crowd to play for the Collingwood Women's Cricket Club. In her first season, she was voted the club's 'most improved player'. Some members of the local community were concerned about her safety, as a child playing amongst adults, especially after she was hit by a ball while batting. Her parents, however, continued to support her involvement, confident that a player with her natural ability would learn from the experience. 'She has been hit onceā€¦.she won't be hit again', they said.

Timing mitigated against Wilson enjoying an extensive international career. She only played eleven tests because the Second World War prevented her from playing internationally before 1948. She made the most of her opportunities in those eleven tests, however, amassing 862 runs at an average of 57.47, putting her on a par with the current Australian Captain, Ricky Ponting (as of August 2006 it was 58.86 ) and ahead of a previous Australian test captain Greg Chappell (53.86). Her bowling figures were equally, if not more impressive; in that period she took 68 wickets for an average of 11.81 (in August 2006, Australian champion bowler, Shane Warne, had an average of 25.25). In one match against England, in 1958, she created a record for the number of wickets in an innings (she took 7 for 7 runs). In this match, she was the first test cricketer, male or female, to complete the match double of 100 runs and ten wickets in a test match.

Betty Wilson was successful because she had natural talent and worked hard to exploit it. She trained everyday, unlike most of her team mates, who trained once a week. She left nothing to chance; she even starched her hat so it wouldn't flop around while she batted. In an age of amateurs, she was ahead of her time in terms of the professional approach she took to her preparation.

In honour of her significant achievements and contributions to women's cricket, Betty Wilson was admitted to the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame in 1985, the first women's cricketer to be so honoured. In 2006, she was the first Australian women to be awarded Honorary Membership of the Melbourne Cricket Club. Her name is memorialized in the trophy that Australian Under 21 women cricketers compete for, the Betty Wilson Shield.

Sources used to compile this entry: Cashman, Richard and Weaver, Amanda, Wicket Women: Cricket and Women in Australia, With research assistance by Sandra Glass, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, Australia, 1991; Cooper, Adam, 'Women's cricketing great dead at 88', Sydney Morning Herald, John Fairfax, January 23, 2010, http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/womens-cricketing-great-dead-at-88-20100123-mrf0.html.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Betty Wilson interviewed by Nicola Henningham [sound recording]., c. 1930 - c. 2006, ORAL TRC 5755; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

Digital resources

Title
Collingwood Ladies Team
Type
Image
Date
c. 1934
Source
Betty Wilson

Details

Nikki Henningham

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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