Kent celebrates contributions by women stars past and present
© Max Flego Photography/ Kent County Cricket Club
Kent looms large in " rel="noopener noreferrer">Tammy Beaumont’s story, the county of her birth and an area with a proud cricketing heritage.
So, it was only fitting that Beaumont scored her eighth ODI century at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in Canterbury on the day that Kent Cricket chose to celebrate achievements by its female players. It was the England opener’s second international ton at the historic venue and helped seal a 4-1 series win against New Zealand.
Beaumont was one of 54 Kent Women stars past and present honoured with their county cap as the club marked its 150th anniversary year. Contributions by those players have brought the club eight one-day County Championships, two other league titles and three national T20 trophies and seen it become the most successful county side in women's cricket. Other Kent heroes involved in England’s clash with New Zealand were also presented with their caps at a special ceremony – England’s Natasha Farrant, New Zealand’s " rel="noopener noreferrer">Suzie Bates, and Lydia Greenway, who was providing commentary for Sky Sports.
“It's always very special memories coming back to Canterbury,” said Beaumont who grew up playing cricket at the Kent coastal town of Sandwich. “The crowd always get behind us, so to score runs here, I'm really, really happy."
“For me to not only get my cap alongside Lydia, Tash and Suzie, but then to see many Kent legends that I played with back in 2007, it was a really special moment for Kent to recognise all its past cricketers. There were some women that I'd never even met there before, and it was just so lovely. It's such a nice thing to do and I'm really glad that so many came down to support the game. It really did feel like a homecoming.”
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The first recorded Kent Women’s match took place on 29 May 1935 against a Civil Service XI, while two years later, Kent Women played their first international against the touring Australians in Gravesend. There have been many, many notable milestones since, including historic doubles in 2011 and 2016.
Since the restructuring of women's cricket in England last year, 50-over cricket is played by regional teams only in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, with Kent acting as a feeder county for South East Stars. However, the county has continued its winning ways since, first by topping the South East Group table in the Women's County T20 with a nine-point lead over near rivals Surrey. Then, lifting the Women’s London Championship at the end of the summer, their tenth league win in their history. In recognition of this, Kent Women’s playing shirts will proudly feature a star above the Kent crest next summer.
While some of Kent’s celebratory events were postponed due to COVID, the club was keen to mark the role women's cricket has played in the county's proud history.
“Kent Women have become a dominant side in women’s county cricket, and we are extremely proud to honour their achievements. The 54 women cricketers are part of a rich Kent legacy which now sees a thriving women’s and girls’ game in the county, one which we are committed to support and grow,” Kent’s Director of Cricket, Paul Downton, said.
Cap number 15, Kate Brown, echoed a similar happy reaction of many newly capped players upon hearing the news, by saying, “It has been a huge privilege to play for Kent and be part of a fantastic cricket family. I’d like to pay tribute to all my fellow cricketers for their great contributions too. We were always seriously competitive and had many memorable times, but above all it was great fun.”
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Before play, Brown, was invited to ring the bell in the pavilion at Canterbury before being joined by her former teammates, and Kent stars from other eras, inside the FGS Plant Harris Suite, to celebrate the rich history of Kent’s Women’s side.
Cap number 7, Cecilia Robinson, the oldest living Women’s Capped Player was presented with her cap at her home. She was the first person, male or female, born in Canterbury to play Test cricket.
Among those in attendance at the ground were Chris Watmough, Marie Moralee, Mary Pilling and many other names from Kent Women sides of years gone by, alongside the current crop of Kent stars in the likes of Grace Gibbs and Hannah Jelfs.
The event coincided with a Women in Business talk, with keynote speakers: ECB non-executive director Brenda Trenowden, Double Olympian Mel Clewlow, Co-Founder & Business Director at Red Key Concepts Charley Gremo-Gilham, and CEO of Canterbury’s Business Improvement District Lisa Carlson.
Kent Cricket says it is dedicated to harnessing the power of cricket to make a positive difference in its local communities, inspired by Sport England’s award-winning ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. The club saw the visit to Canterbury by the England and New Zealand sides as a fantastic vehicle to inspire the next generation that ‘This Girl Can’.
Kent Women – highlights from a record-breaking county
The first recorded Kent women’s match took place on 29 May against a Civil Service XI.
The Kent side featured the Blaker twins, Barbara and Joan, who would be pioneers of the women’s game in the south of England prior to the Second World War.
Kent faced Australia at Gravesend on 2 June at The Ball & Ball Ground in Gravesend, the first international played by Kent.
Although Australia won by 84 runs, the Kent side featured many top-class English players of the period, including England’s first Test captain Betty Archdale, and Barbara and Joan Blaker.
The first recorded women’s match at Canterbury took place on 22 June.
Kent defeated the Women’s Cricket Association XI by eight wickets, and boasted a side including: Cecilia Robinson, the first person born in Canterbury to play Test cricket, and Ruth Westbrook, Test cricketer that coached England to World Cup glory in 1993.
Kent contested their first List A match in the Women’s Area Championship at Lyminge against Sussex, playing twice a year until expansion in 1986.
Kent won their first Women’s Area Championship (one-day competition) on 6 September, contesting the final against West at Harrow School.
Anne Stuart scored 99 opening the batting, and Julie May took 3-17, on Kent's way to an 89-run win.
An undefeated Kent won their first ever County Championship after five wins and one no-result.
Charlotte Edwards was the tournament’s second highest run-scorer, with 335 runs in only four innings, including 139 against Lancashire at Beckenham.
Edwards was also the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, with 12 at 13.25.
Kent successfully defend their County Championship title.
Kent win a third County Championship title.
Kent clinched an historic 'double'.
On 4 September, Kent beat Berkshire at Beckenham to seal the domestic double with a fourth County Championship title.
Kent also won their first Women’s National T20 title, beating Berkshire by eight wickets at Shenley.
Laura Marsh top-scored for Kent in the tournament with 167 in six matches, averaging 33.40, whilst Alice Davidson-Richards topped The Horses’ wicket-taking charts with 12 at only 10.25.
Kent successfully defend their County Championship title.
Kent win their second National T20 title.
Kent win a sixth County Championship.
Kent secured a second 'double' with a team made-up largely of the successful 2011 side, with County Championship & National T20 wins.
Kent broke their own record, winning an eighth County Championship title in the final year of the tournament before the introduction of regional teams who will compete in 50-over cricket from 2020
Kent Cricket awarded its first Women's Caps to stars past and present in recognition of outstanding performances for club and country.
Kent topped the Vitality Women's County T20 South East Group before lifting the second contested Women’s London Championship, after fighting off challenges from fellow South East rivals Essex, Sussex and Surrey.
Beaumont scored her second ODI century at Canterbury following her 105 at the ground against South Africa in 2018.
With thanks to Kent Cricket for historical research