The first ever international match played at Manuka Oval was not by a male cricket team, it was in fact played by the Canberra Women’s side against the touring English Women’s side in January 1935.
In September of 1934, there was talk about Canberra securing a visit of the English Women’s side. There was enough confidence in local cricket circles that Manuka Oval was given a block of time set aside for the women’s tour match. At the start of October, local authorities were informed that the English Women’s side would come to Canberra and play a match against a representative Canberra Women’s side. It was a result of an invitation by the New South Wales Women’s Cricket Association. The Canberra side had been one of the strongest areas across country New South Wales following the formation of the Blue Triangle Cricket Association which was responsible for the organisation of cricket in the Canberra area. The local association at the time had six teams across the capital.
Just before Christmas in 1934, a trial match was held between two sides of the Blue Triangle Cricket Association, an Orange side up against a Blue side. The Blue side dominated the match, dismissing the Orange side for 27, Marjorie Moore taking 6 for 19 and Edna Tong 4 for 4. In reply the Blue side made 59 with Mrs Oldfield scoring 30, Nina Southwell taking 4 for 16 and Helen Moore (Marjorie’s sister) taking 4 for 20.
A second trial match was held on December 27 with teams led by Miss Blundell and Miss Southwell according to the Canberra Times. Miss Blundell’s side batted first and made 103 of which Marjorie Moore made 34 and Mrs Oldfield made 27. Nina Southwell took 5 for 17 and Ivy Twemlow from Cooma took 3 for 18. In reply Miss Southwell’s side was dismissed for 113 winning the match by just 10 runs. Ivy Twemlow followed her success with the ball by top scoring with 34 and securing herself a side in the Canberra side for the match against the English. Marjorie Moore again impressed with the ball.
Following this match, the Canberra side for the match was named for the match against the tourists.
Marjorie Moore was named as captain. The rest of the side was Lily Blundell (vice-captain, Westridge), Nina Southwell (Hall), Helen Moore (Hall), Jean Oldfield (Westridge), Katherine Corey (Westridge), Rita Connelly (Westridge), Molly McKissock (Westlake), Francis Robinson (Westlake), Beryl Dixon (YWCA), Ivy Twemlow (Cooma) and Ivy McDonald (Westlake) who was the 12th player. Moore was the second youngest player in the side, aged just 16 while her sister Helen was the youngest aged just 14. The oldest was Francis Robinson aged 37. Eight of the side were still teenagers.
Marjorie Moore captained the first women’s side in 1934/35 at the age of just 16 when they played the visiting English Women’s side. She also led the ACT side to victory at several Country Week competitions and was selected as the vice-captain of the New South Wales side in the 1935/36 Australian Women’s Cricket Championships. She took over 20 wickets in the 1935/36 Country Championships including 16 wickets in two matches on one day. In the first match on that day she took match figures of 13 for 32 against Lisarow. She was a contender for the 1937 Australian Tour of England but was ineligble due to the minimum age limit for players for the tour being 21. Moore was also the President of the Federal Capital Territory’s Women’s Cricket Association in the 1930s. She was inducted into the Cricket ACT Hall of Fame in 2021.
The schedule as described by the Canberra Times was as follows:
Wednesday January 9
- 730am: Women cricketers to be met at Railway Station by hosts and hostesses.
- 11am: Photographs at Manuka Oval.
- 1130am: Match v. Blue Triangle Cricket Association.
- 1-2pm: Picnic lunch on the Manuka Oval.
- 4 p.m.: Afternoon tea break.
- 6 pm.: Stumps drawn.
- Evening: Swimming Baths visitors’ events.
Thursday January 10
- Morning free for rest or swimming.
- 2 pm: Meet at the Parliament House.
- Drive Round the City
- 630pm: High tea as guests of the Y.W.C.A. at Civic Centre.
- 30: Leave by train.
The side was billeted out by interested families and members of the YWCA and the Governor-General, his wife and the Minister for the Interior were invited to the match. A special scorecard was also to be produced for the match. The admission charge was 1/- for adults and 6d for children. There was no charge for cars to enter the ground. Both teams were presented to the Governor-General (Sir Isaac Isaacs) during an interval of the match.
The English side that was named was B.Archdale (captain), B.Snowball, M.Child, B.Green, M.Maclagan, G.Morgan, J.Partridge, N.Richards, J.Spear, M.Taylor and C.Valentine.
A large crowd attended the match on January 9 despite a plea from the organisers for a half day public service holiday being rejected. Marjorie Moore won the toss and elected to bat first.
Ivy Twemlow and J.Oldfield opened the batting for the home side and made a slow and steady start. Out of the first 13 overs, 9 were maidens. Oldfield was the first batter dismissed when she was caught at point off the bowling of Richards for 5. After 85 minutes the score was 1 for 17 with 17 maidens. Blundell was next to be dismissed after being caught short from Maclagan to the keeper Morgan and was dismissed for 0 in 25 minutes. Corey came in to bat next but was dismissed for two, caught behind by Morgan. The captain, Marjorie Moore came to the crease next to loud cheers to join Twemlow. Unfortunately Twemlow was next to be dismissed stumped off the bowling of Maclagan. Her innings lasted 100 minutes and she weathered the majority of the opening attack, scoring 14 runs.
Helen Moore came to the crease next to join her sister and they started to push the scoring rate with aggressive batting. Unfortunately just before the luncheon interval she was clean bowled, playing over the delivery from Taylor. Nina Southwell entered the ground next and proceeded to hit the first boundary of the match pulling Richards to the fence. She out shortly after, caught at square leg by Child for 8. At lunch the local side was 6 for 47.
Connelly and Moore continued after lunch and when the score reached 6 for 53, it was the highest score made by a country side against the touring side. The pair then put on 20 runs in 20 minutes after lunch, playing forceful shots all around the wicket. The captain was next to fall, skying a ball which was caught by Spear off the bowling off Maclagan. The partnership had put on 29 and the score was 7 for 71. Connelly was clean bowled in the next over, followed by Robinson clean bowled as well by the next ball. Maclagan narrowly missed the hat trick but two balls later had McKissock stumped and the local side was dismissed for 72 at 320pm, losing their last 4 wickets for 1 run in 6 deliveries.
Rain started to fall before the English Women could commence their innings. Umpires continued to inspect the wicket until 430pm when it was decided to continue the match. Marjorie Moore and Nina Southwell opened the bowling against the batting of Maclagan and Snowball. The pair brought the total to ten where they had another 75 minutes of play to score the remaining 63 runs required to lead on the first innings.
Maclagan was missed in the slips by Connelly off the bowling of Southwell but a few balls later she was dismissed by Moore caught in the slips by Oldfield for 8. Morgan was the next batter and Snowball continued the free scoring by hitting two threes, one drive to the fence and the second a pull shot to leg. Connelly replaced Southwell and Twemlow from Cooma replaced Moore as the bowlers. Connelly improved her length and off the second ball of her third over dismissed Snowball caught and bowled. Snowball had been at the crease for 44 minutes scoring 26 runs. Green was next in but the rain returned, this time in torrents and the players dashed from the field and unfortunately not to return. The English side had made 2 for 47 off 16.5 overs. So 87 years ago, the first international match played at Manuka Oval was completed. Although small in context of that tour, it was the start of International cricket in the nation’s capital and starting a rich tradition culminating in the first Women’s Test Match to be held at the ground.