On Wednesday 13 March, 1895 a large crowd gathered at the East Melbourne cricket ground for an unusual event – a ladies’ cricket match.


The captains. The ladies’ cricket match; H18231 

Excitement had reached fever pitch. The ladies had been practising in secret and speculation was rife over what they would wear.

By 2.30pm the grandstands were packed. The weather was oppressive: ‘…a scorching sun at intervals bursting forth from heavily looming clouds’ (Ovens & Murray Advertiser).

‘Look! Here they come’ a spectator said. The crowd drew a collective intake of breath as the ladies filed out onto the ground.

coming out

Coming out. The ladies’ cricket match; H18231 

The women wore:

‘A loose blouse, and ample skirt reaching to the ankles, black hose and white shoes, with small straw hats, of the species called the ‘Gem’, the colours of the different teams being denoted by red or blue ribbons around the hat and a necktie of the same colour.’ (Ovens and Murray Advertiser)

Opinions on the ladies’ style of dress varied widely. The Weekly Times was complimentary, with a cautionary note: ‘Both sides were very tastefully attired in the orthodox flannel, though not of the rational style of architecture.’

Maiden over

Maiden over. The ladies’ cricket match; H18231 

The Ovens and Murray Advertiser was less enamoured. ‘[T]he reality does not come up to the expectation’ it lamented. ‘There is no cycling costume here, no masculine jacket, waistcoat and knickerbockers, as might have been supposed…’

Others could not hide their disappointment.

‘Anything more cumbersome, uncricketlike and ungraceful than the costume the women chose it is difficult to imagine’ the Australasian harrumphed. ‘They looked like gigantic white butterflies flopping over the grass’. (p 26)

On the field_2.jpeg

On the field; IAN01/04/95/8  

The women divided themselves into two groups representing Australia and England. The teams took turns sitting for the photographer while the impatient crowd watched on, occasionally shouting ‘Look alive there!’ to hurry them on.

Formalities dispensed with, the cricket began.

Commentators observed a relaxed style of game. There was scant regard for the length of an over, with some ladies reportedly being allowed to send down seven or eight balls before the umpire tired and cried ‘Hold, enough’ (Weekly Times).

Returning to the pavilion_3

Returning to the Pavilion, IAN01/04/95/8

The Ovens and Murray Advertiser filed this progress report:

‘So far, the game reminds one..of children playing at cricket, the bowling being all underhand, and the batting of a wild order, slogging at everything, even when the ball has passed the wicket … [O]n one occasion I noticed that the batswoman made a wild drive, missed, and spun round two or three times like a teetotum’.

However, things changed when Miss May McDonnell, captain of the English cricket team, strode onto the pitch. ‘The way she let drive at the balls was a caution … sending them to the fence for fours, or swiping them into a totally unexpected part of the field’. (Ovens & Murray Advertiser)

Miss McDonnell

Miss McDonnell; IAN01/04/95/8

Miss McDonnell led her team fearlessly to a total first innings score of 103, with an impressive personal score of 62 not out. The crowd cheered as the English team made their exit.

Lunch was improved by a man with a trombone, who ‘either simulated lunacy or was really afflicted.’ The crowd however, was not put off, and ‘…a shower of coppers rained down upon him’. (Ovens and Murray Advertiser)

After lunch, Miss Annie Trott led the charge for the Australians but despite their best efforts, the wickets fell in rapid succession. The ladies were all out for 44 by five o’clock.

winning team

The winning team; IAN01/04/95/8

This article has 6 comments

  1. Hi Sarah, I am currently researching to (hopefully) compile a book on the history of the Victorian Women’s Cricket Association.

    I believe this match was played on the 13th of March, not the 23rd. (All of your newspaper articles referenced are from the 16th of March so the 23rd can’t be correct).

    If you check the scorecard listed in the Weekly times article, May McDonnell made 62 no, not 65 no.

    May McDonnell was the sister of Percy McDonnell, Australian Captain and Annie Trott was the sister of Harry Trott – Australian Captain and Albert Trott (who played for both Australia and England).

    • Sarah Matthews

      Thanks Robyn. I have updated the blog accordingly. Sarah

    • Meryl Nascarella

      Hi Robyn. I have seen you are putting together information on early Victorian women’s cricket. My Grandmother Eliza Gardener was in a Victorian team who were the premiers from 1929 to 1931. I have a couple of photos which may be of interest to you. I have just started to look at these from my mums collection she is 94 and would be very interested in what you find out.

      • Hi Meryl, I’d be very interested in seeing the photos you have. I’m a bit confused by the dates you have given as State cricket didn’t commence officially until the 1930-31 season. Victoria first won the State Championship in 1933-34. A team of Victorians did travel to NSW in 1930 but this wasn’t an official State Championship.

        A list of all Victorian players can be found at http://wccc.vic.cricket.com.au/content.aspx?file=28120|42123a

        It is always difficult with the women who played as we do not always have their married/maiden name details.

        I’m wondering if your grandmother actually played in Victoria rather than for Victoria as the dates 1929 to 1931 correlate with Brunswick Ladies Cricket Club being Premiers in the VWCA.

        I can be contacted via Cricket Victoria’s Womens Community Cricket Administrator,

  2. Rev. Sandy Brodine

    I’d be fascinated to see any further information you have about this particular match too. I’m descended from GHS Trott, and so have always been interested in this match since I read about it as a teenager in the 1980s. I’m particularly interested in anything relating to Annie Trott, or her cousin “Miss J Trott” or the rest of their family.
    Sandy Brodine

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