OBITUARY: Molly Hide

Molly Hide, once described as "the personification of women's cricket", bestrode the field for 20 years, and brought a classical style to the distaff side of the game such as had never previously been known. Women's cricket was elevated by her deeds and by her manner, which, during her years as England captain, was almost lordly.

All her life, Hide had been committed to cricket, from her schooldays at Wycombe Abbey through her summers with Surrey and England, and into the later years when she served as selector, manager, broadcaster and administrator. Almost 60 years after her maiden Test appearance she was a guest of honour at Lord's when England's women cricketers won the 1993 World Cup.

She played in the first of all women's Test matches, at Brisbane in 1934- 35. Having made a century in the opening match, against Western Australia, she scored 110 at Christchurch when England sailed on to New Zealand for a further Test. In less than 21/2 hours, she and Betty Snowball (189) added 235 for the second wicket as England raced to a declared total of 503 for 5 in reply to the home side's 44. Victory by an innings gave English women's cricket a lift.

A drawn (1-1) series at home to Australia in 1937 further boosted the game, which then as now had many doubters among the chauvinists. Molly Hide was made captain that year, an appointment she graced for 17 years until her 1954 retirement. Her crucial 64 at The Oval steadied England in an unfinished match, her eight wickets for 58 in the Second Test, at Blackpool, helping England to victory. It was not only her classical batting which elevated her above the rest. Her uncompromising off-spin and competent fielding made her the complete all-rounder, even if she tended to underuse her bowling.

Even had the 1939-40 tour of Australia not been stopped by the onset of the Second World War, Hide would not have gone, for her father needed her on the farm, Lower Roundhurst, a 200-acre spread near Haslemere, in Surrey. She had completed her education with a diploma in agriculture at Reading University.

When international cricket was resumed with the 1948-49 tour of Australasia, Hide, now in her mid-thirties, was the natural choice as England captain. Having notched a century in Colombo on the voyage out, she made 51 in the drawn Melbourne Test before registering her outstanding performance, 63 in 21/4 hours coupled with a rain-interrupted, unbeaten 124 in the drawn Sydney Test, with an adoring Neville Cardus among the onlookers.

Australia won the series, having taken the opening Test at Adelaide, but Molly Hide's achievement earned her the distinction of a portrait hung in the hallowed precincts of the Sydney Cricket Ground pavilion, alongside the champions of men's cricket. In all matches on the tour she made over 1,100 runs, averaging 50.39, with five centuries. A further honour followed when she and Amy Bull sat on an MCC inquiry, the first women to sit on any committee at Lord's.

Missing the first two Tests when Australia came to Britain in 1951, Hide resumed as captain at The Oval and top-scored twice with 65 and 42. She also took 2 for 15 (Mary Duggan 5 for 30) as Australia were hustled out for 83 to give England a halved series.

Three years later, Hide's Test career closed with a 1-0 victory over the 1954 New Zealanders. She had never had the chance to tread the sacred Lord's turf, but in her 20 years of Test cricket she had made 872 charming runs (at an average of 36.33) and taken 36 wickets (15.25) and 10 catches.

Tall, calm and usually somewhat inscrutable, Molly Hide inspired awe in her team-mates. It is not far-fetched to compare her with Walter Hammond, who was England's most commanding male cricketer over much of the same period, or with Douglas Jardine, the sardonic skipper of the Bodyline campaign of 1932-33, though Hide never did anything that brought discredit upon the game.

Also a lacrosse international, this quintessential Englishwoman of her time was actually born in Shanghai. And, by way of further lustre and romance, let it not be forgotten that she, like all women cricketers to this day, was the complete amateur, though the class of her batting warranted rich reward.

Mary Edith (Molly) Hide, cricketer: born Shanghai 24 October 1913; died Milford, Surrey 10 September 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor