Regency women playing cricket? 🏏 Yup, it was a thing ...
Cricket—a game described as a hybrid of baseball and chess, with games lasting from three hours to five days.
The second most popular sport on earth, with a viewership upwards of 2.5 billion.
And it all began in England, undergoing major development during the 18th century to become the national sport.
So popular that there are records of women playing it, too.
The first recorded match of all-women players was reported in the July 25, 1746 edition of the ‘Reading Mercury’, which must have drawn considerable interest based on this article.
"The greatest cricket match that was played in this part of England was on Friday, the 26th of last month, on Gosden Common, near Guildford, between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white. The Bramley maids had blue ribbons and the Hambledon maids red ribbons on their heads. The Bramley girls got 119 notches and the Hambledon girls 127. There was of bothe sexes the greatest number that ever was seen on such an occasion. The girls bowled, batted, ran and catches as well as most men could do in that game."
Then in 1799, The Countess of Derby personally played in a match she organized at The Oaks, her home in Surrey.
Later, in 1811, Sporting Magazine reported on a match between Hampshire and Surrey women, and Thomas Rowlandson was there to depict in his incomparable style (which does not quite match the reporter's account).
Apparently, Rowlandson went with a slightly more salacious spin on the event.
"The ground, which is spacious, was enlivened with marquees and booths, well supplied with gin, beer, and gingerbread. The performers in this contest were of all ages and sizes, from fourteen to sixty; the young had shawls, and the old, long cloaks. The Hampshire were distinguished by the colour of true blue, which was pinned in their bonnets in the shape of the Prince’s plume. The Surrey was equally as smart: their colours were blue, surmounted with orange. They consisted of eleven on each side."
So, as you can see, women's cricket has its roots in history and matches were well attended by both men and women.
I imagine sisters were frequently drafted into informal matches when their brothers were short of players. After all, they needed two full teams of eleven players to make a proper game of it!
Find out if cricket will make an appearance in Book 4 of Inconvenient Brides when it releases in a few weeks. Sleepless in Saunton is an age gap romance between the insomniac, Jane Davis, who longs for her own great love and widower, Barclay Thompson, who lost his beloved wife and is struggling to reconnect with the world. When little Tatiana meets the perfect candidate, she is going to do whatever it takes to recruit her new mother.