73 to 0: SCG to house first statue of female cricketer
The first sculpture of a female cricketer in Australia will be installed at the SCG, as Cricket Australia seek to address the imbalance of public recognition for women in cricket
8 March 2021, 07:00 AM AEST
The 73 known statues and sculptures of cricketers across Australia have one significant thing in common: each and every one celebrates a male player.
The first step towards redressing that imbalance has now been made, with the Sydney Cricket Ground set to house the country’s first sculpture of a female cricketer.
The player to be immortalised in bronze has yet to be determined and is sure to be the topic of much debate, with legendary allrounder Betty Wilson, former captain Belinda Clark and the Gregory sisters, who played in Australia's first-ever organised women’s cricket match 135 years ago at what was then the Association Ground, among the leading candidates.
Addressing that imbalance of public recognition for women in cricket – not only in statues, but across all areas of the sport – will be a major focus for a new working group formed by Cricket Australia.
Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes, journalist Angela Pippos, Australia great Lisa Sthalekar and Bradman Museum executive director Rina Hore, alongside CA Interim CEO Nick Hockley, are among the nine members who will form the first Recognition of Women in Cricket Working Group.
Few know better the importance of highlighting the rich history of the women’s game in Australia than Hore, who has worked tirelessly for more than two decades to ensure precious memories are not lost.
Hore, who does not have a preference around which player is honoured at the SCG, believes the announcement of the sculpture will open the floodgates for many more to follow.
"When I was told about the statue, I could have cried," Hore told cricket.com.au. "It is such an important announcement because once you get that first statue, others will follow.
"Newcastle might now look at it and go, 'we should have had a statue of Belinda Clark years ago'.
"It’ll open up discussion across all associations and towns that have produced some of these outstanding cricketers.
"This will be a game changer again for acceptance of women's cricket."
Long before 86,174 people watched Australia win the T20 World Cup at the MCG on March 8 last year, the national women’s team were making their mark on world cricket.
Since their first Test match against England in 1934, Australia’s women have claimed six ODI World Cups, five T20I World Cups and won more matches across the three formats than any other team.
Yet piecing together that rich and successful history has proved a challenge. Where there are countless books and collections of artefacts documenting the men’s game, much of the history of the women’s game is housed in the memories of those who played.
Hore has been working to capture as much of that history as possible for the Bradman Museum, which last year published the ground-breaking book Clearing Boundaries - The Rise of Australian Women's Cricket.
"It's been a 20-year road for me ... (even) now I find myself in a position where I'm having to go back and push barriers again to get women's history documented in the professional and diverse way that the men's history has been documented for years," she said.
"Because we don't want to lose our roots, we want to acknowledge our pioneers of the past.
"The history of the women's game wasn't on bookshelves, it wasn't in newspapers or media archives, it was in the memories and personal collections of past players."
Past players including Norma Whiteman, Australia's oldest living women's Test player at 93 years of age, have visited the museum and contributed their personal photo collections and other items, and helped fill the gaps by identifying former teammates in other photographs.
"It's vital research that needs to be done," Hore continued.
"I've got a group of about nine past players in NSW who come to the museum every month … we’ve taught these ladies how to sort through and catalogue the photos and the items, and how to record them in our database, so we're building that content and it will be saved forever."
Cricket Australia has also co-commissioned a piece of artwork with the Melbourne Cricket Club that will depict the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 Final.
The artwork will be painted by award-winning artist Vincent Fantauzzo and will begin to redress the imbalance of artworks that depict women's sport at the ground.
The piece will be showcased within the Level 2 corridors of the MCC Members' Reserve, where it will feature as a regular of the MCG Tour route.
"Just as this year's International Women’s Day theme promotes 'choose to challenge', we are committed to challenging ourselves to continue to address gender inequality across our game," Hockley said.
"Precisely one year ago to the day, we were celebrating a ground-breaking moment when 86,174 fans packed out the MCG for the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup.
"So many challenges have been presented since that day, and it is now more important than ever that we keep pushing for equality in cricket and keep building the momentum established before the pandemic."