Thousands of cricket fans will discover the hidden histories of women’s cricket played in Yorkshire in a new exhibition at Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC), thanks to four enterprising University of Huddersfield history students.

Cerys Auty, Laura Sharp, Millie Denton and Tilly Olphin unearthed a wealth of information about the progress of women’s cricket in Yorkshire stretching back to the 1700s, and the results were unveiled during the Northern Diamonds’ clash against Western Storm at Headingley.

Mentored and supported by Charlotte Hughes, Head of Heritage for Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), the fruits of the students’ research over a six-month period are on show in the Long Room at Headingley, and were given an official launch by Dr Jane Powell, President of YCCC, and former England women’s cricket captain and Yorkshire cricketer, on Wednesday, 24 April, 2024.

Pictured, Yorkshire Cricket unveils new exhibition celebrating women’s cricket in partnership with The University of Huddersfield.

Pictured from left: Charlotte Hughes, Head of Heritage for YCF, alongside Cerys Auty, Prof Rob Ellis, Dr Jane Powell, Millie Denton, Laura Sharp and Tilly Olphin.

The exhibition entitled: Unlocking the histories of cricket: The Women’s Game, showcases a number of rare and unique objects and artefacts including items from Jane’s career, including her England and Yorkshire blazer – which Jane paid for. With both blazers being blue, the cricketer, who also worked full time as a teacher, used to have two pockets which she sewed the badges onto depending on who she was representing. The collection also represents Yorkshire’s modern women with a Yorkshire Diamonds’ shirt belonging to the domestic women’s all-time leading wicket-taker – the Queen of spin – Katie Levick.

The display will be available to visit for the entire season and with Headingley hosting international and domestic matches throughout the summer, including England Women versus Pakistan Women, on 19 May, the hard work of the student quartet will be seen by thousands of visitors to the ground at a time when the profile of women’s cricket is on the rise.

Jane said: “These girls have done a fantastic job of researching women’s cricket in Yorkshire.

“It was wonderful how excited they became, because they didn’t realise what they were researching because it was hidden.

“Now it is out in the public, and not only that but it’s in the Long Room here at Headingley where all the members come in.

“I have often been asked whether Yorkshire have played women’s cricket for very long, so now I don’t have to answer that because everything they need is here.”

Picture by Allan McKenzie/ - 24/04/2024 - Cricket - Yorkshire County Cricket Club - Women's Exhibition Launch - Headingley Cricket Ground, Leeds, England.

Pictured, Jane’s England and Yorkshire blazer.

The exhibition project was developed by YCF – YCCC’s charity and community arm, in partnership with the University through Prof Rob Ellis, of the History Department. It builds on his long track record of innovative public history outputs that have included co-produced collaborations involving student researchers.

Charlotte, Head of Heritage for YCF, said: “We have had a fantastic exhibition launch on the history of women’s cricket. The students have done a great job, chosen many brilliant objects, and pulled out wonderful stories.

“The involvement that Jane Powell has had, has been key to this exhibition and we have some wonderful things that belong to Jane including her England blazer with her Yorkshire emblem. The story behind that, with her having to pay for it and it being all part of one blazer, is a fantastic story that tells the changing times of women’s history within the sport and that is a key piece of this exhibition.

“We have a fantastic running theme here of unlocking hidden histories and I think we want to keep delving into that and keep curating with different communities and helping to do that through the brilliant partnership with students from The University of Huddersfield.

“The world is our oyster for this. There are so many different things we can unlock and look at across Yorkshire and I’m exciting to see what other stories we unlock in future projects.”

Pictured, the exhibition is on show in the Long Room in the East Stand at Headingley Cricket Ground.

The exhibition is on show in the Long Room, in the East Stand, at Headingley Cricket Ground.

Millie, a second-year history student, who helped to put together a women’s hall of fame for the exhibition, said: “Cricket is not a sport dominated by women, so the project was very intriguing when Rob mentioned it to us.

“To get to give voices to women, who have often been ignored in cricket, was great and my grandma plays cricket, so I love that too.

“Jane Powell was a massive help to us. She gave us a lot of material from her time as a player, there is not a lot of in existence, so much has been lost but Jane told us that there’s a need for other former players to donate.”

“We have found the majority of the primary material from the Yorkshire archive, but Jane Powell was a massive help to us. She gave us a lot of material from her time as a player, but generally a lot has been lost or just does not exist anymore, but Jane told us that there’s a need for other former players to donate,” added Laura.

Tilly discovered a snippet about a women’s game from 1745, but it was not until the 20th Century that a more formal structure led to more information becoming available. The women’s game thrived in parallel to men’s, but it remained very much hidden and marginalised, despite England’s women being the first national cricket side to win a World Cup in 1973.

Progress in promoting the game was slow, with women only being allowed to enter the Long Room in the Pavilion at Lord’s, the sport’s headquarters, in 1999.

“Hopefully the exhibition will open the door to better inclusivity, and to more projects as well,” said Tilly. “We found a lot of material and information about women’s cricket in India and Pakistan that we could not include that in this research as much as we would have liked to. Hopefully it will spark more people into more research that looks into the other amazing women that were able to play.”

The exhibition entitled: Unlocking the histories of cricket: The Women's Game, showcases a number of rare and unique objects and artefacts.

The exhibition entitled: Unlocking the histories of cricket: The Women’s Game, showcases a number of rare and unique objects and artefacts.

Millie added: “I think it will spark conversation, especially among older cricket fans and the members here. It might answer a few questions, open the door for us and make women feel as included in cricket as men are.”

The students were joined by friends and family at the unveiling during lunch of the Northern Diamonds match against Western Storm, and Cerys was thrilled that so many more people will be finding out more about women’s cricket during the rest of the season.

She said: “It is exciting, and a really big thing for us. To be able to come here and see it after spending the year by a computer, reading, researching and writing, and to know how many people are going to see it as a first piece of public history as a student is almost overwhelming.”

Due to the success of the project Yorkshire Cricket and The University of Huddersfield are already planning future collaborations.

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