Australia has been the undisputed champion in the world of cricket for decades. Be it male, or female cricket Australia has proved themselves always. On this day Australian women’s cricket team won the very first cricket world cup, male or female.
The first women’s world cup was held in 1973, two years before the version of male counterpart began. The next was scheduled to be held in 1978 but women’s cricket was going through serious financial trouble. Following that West Indies and Holland withdrew their names from the world cup just before the announcement of tournament dates. So finally it was a clash among four teams- Australia, New Zealand, England the previous champion and India the debutant. Only India had some sort of chance of pulling audience for the women’s world cup and hence India was declared to be the host of the tournament.
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Due to a very few numbers of teams, the tournament was decided to be played in a round robin format without a final where each team meets all the contestants and winner is chosen based on the numbers without a final, unlike elimination format. However, the last match played between the two strongest teams, England Women and Australia Women.
Australia Women began their journey in an easy win over New Zealand. Wendy Hills helped Aussie to set a target of 177 and bowlers like Sharon Tredrea and Raelee Thomson defended the total very well and the Kiwis could only score 111 for 8. The host on the same day began their journey of women’s world cup began in a very unfortunate way against the defending champion.
Australia continued their victorious journey throughout the tournament and Sharon Tredea delivered with bat also against India and Peta Vecro with a brilliant bowling figure of 9-3-9-3 bundled India for just 79. Elsewhere on the same day England thrashed New Zealand and won easily by 7 wickets with 57 balls remaining.
As expected the finalists from the previous season were scheduled to meet on 13th January 1978 in the second women’s cricket world cup final. Electing to bat first England Women produced a miserable performance against the yellow women. Sharon was on fire. Her 4 wicket spell with assistance from Verco in no time made England crawl at 28 for 6. Only Thomas and Watmough could add a meticulously slow 21 for the second wicket. Thomas was joined by Shirley Hodges, the wicketkeeper and the two added another 22 for the seventh wicket. Hodges and Glynis Hullah survived till the last ball to put on a score of 96-8 for 50 Overs.
Despite that easy target, Australia were soon on 6 for 2. Thanks to Hullah for quickly sending Lorraine Hill and Hills back to the pavilion. The Aussies were in a tough situation but it was still under control. Janette Tredrea, sister of Sharon and the skipper Margaret Jennings approached the target with absolute calm. They were in no hurry. The goal was not to lose wickets anymore. Both remained unbeaten, Jennings on 57 and Janette on 37; and won the first ever world cup by 8 wickets for Australia, male or female.
England began their world cup journey in 1978 with a bit of controversy. Rachel Heyhoe- Flint, arguably the first great female cricket was dropped from the England squad. It had been rumored that her popularity wasn’t going well with the administration. Once they lost it in 1978, it took another 16 years for England to win it in 1993. For Australia, it was just the beginning of their dominance in the world of cricket. They went on to win the women’s version for three consecutive times starting from 1978 and eventually became the most successful team with 6 world cups.