Women hit 250 years and a car on the A281

Robert Winder watches as the women's game celebrates its quarter- millennium with a match on Bramley Common

From the Guildford to Horsham road, it probably looked like any old match. Indeed, what with the rows of cars, the barbecue, the colourful deck chairs and the Loseley ice cream concession, it probably looked like an upmarket car boot sale. But the cricket match on Bramley Common yesterday afternoon was a historic one: a friendly commemoration of the first recorded women's fixture which took place on this Surrey heath 250 years ago.

In the men's game, 1745 was the year that Bonnie Prince Charlie took on the Butcher Cumberland at Culloden, and fell back in the face of some intimidating short-pitched piking. In the women's game, Bramley took on Hambleton in a match that the Reading Mercury of that year called "The greatest match that ever was played in the South part of England". The Hambleton Maids (wearing red ribbons in their hair) got 127 "notches", and the Bramley Girls (blue ribbons) could only manage 119. "The girls bowled, batted, ran and catched as well as most men could do in that game," the paper said.

Back then, overarm bowling had not been invented. It was a woman (Christina Willes) who developed the technique in order to get round the snag of her "voluminous skirt". And in 1745 the grass on Bramley Common would have been three inches long, dotted with sheep, and surrounded by men in hats waging large sums on the girls.

Yesterday's fixture was between the Chairman's XI and Surrey Ladies. The Chairman's XI batted first and made slow progress on a variable pitch. Jenny Wostrak (public relations officer for the Women's Cricket Association) batted her way to 63 not out in a total of 139 for 6 off 45 overs. The pick of the Surrey bowlers was Enid Bakewell, who shares with Ian Botham the distinction of having scored 100 runs and taken 10 wickets in a Test match. In nine overs of slow - sometimes very slow - left arm she bowled four maidens and took 1 for 15. Surrey knocked off the runs with some ease, Jenny Lupton top- scoring with 79 not out.

"It was my fault," Wostrak said. "I hogged the bowling at the start." She picked up later, though, whacking one of the cars on the A281 with a pull over square leg. "The girls owe me a tenner for that," she said. "We had a bet no one would hit a car."

It was a spirited match. The class of 1995 batted, bowled and caught with distinction. For the Chairman's XI, Sarah Jane Cook (who is both deaf and dumb) bowled fast and straight enough to trouble everyone. If they had not been wearing boxed, two-pleated skirts, you would not have known they were women except for the fact that for some reason they rubbed the ball on their stomachs instead of their groin.

"We're at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to fielding," said Pat Lovell, captain of the Surrey Ladies. "You don't see a lot of diving in the field with players wearing skirts."

One point of the match was to promote women's cricket. In male locker rooms the joke is that maiden overs are so called because no one scores. It is a pity because England are good at women's cricket. They won the 1993 World Cup and on Saturday won the European Championship in Ireland. Ruth Lupton was one England player who flew home to play in yesterday's game.

"It's the usual Catch-22," Wostrak said. "You can't get sponsorship without coverage and you do not get coverage without sponsorship - it doesn't feel like a big occasion." But the women's game is growing. Some clubs like Shepperton run two women's teams.

There are none at Bramley, however; the great game 250 years ago, commemorated by a plaque on the pavilion wall, does not seem to have inspired the women of Guildford to make the ground their home. Still, as the game drew to a close the women sounded right at home. "God, is it time for a pint of lager," said one. "No way," said her captain. "You might still have to bat." A timeless scene, or what?

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little