DESPITE posturing from Sydney, the harbour city did not actually host the nation's first competitive women's cricket match.
That honour went to Bendigo, in 1874.
Author Louise Zedda-Sampson has righted a historical injustice and restored Bendigo's reputation as a trailblazing home of cricket, with her new book Bowl the Maidens Over: Our First Women Cricketers.
"It was a charity match that by some accounts had 5000 spectators," she said.
"It was a game so noteworthy that people abandoned work to watch the ladies play. Yet it's received barely more than a passing line in historical accounts."
Ms Zedda-Sampson said the match was used as a draw card for the Sandhurst Easter Fair.
"They wanted the fair to be a big revenue raiser and the thinking was: 'what can we show people that's different - that they've not seen before.'
"The Rae family orchestrated the match and placed ads in the paper for players. After that they assembled a team and they practiced at the Bendigo United Cricket Club.
"The Bendigo Advertiser was terrifically supportive of it."
Ms Zedda-Sampson said the book detailed the relatively unknown role of the Rae family: John, his wife Emily and their two daughters Barbara and Hellen (Nellie) Rae - who were pioneers of women's cricket. The matches were played at two consecutive fairs.
"The Bendigo Advertiser wrote about it in very warm - almost family like - terms ,'' Ms Zedda-Sampson said.
"The game was really well received. People came from far and wide."
However, other press was oppressive.
"The match was met by extensive press vitriol and public scorn,'' it is noted in the book's forward by Dr Megan Ponsford.
"The encounter was deemed so audacious that newspaper reports of the match even reached English and American shores. Notwithstanding vehement criticism, the women's enthusiasm remained buoyant and subsequent encounters were arranged. Despite fits and starts, this marks the birth of the women's competition."
An extract from the Herald, dated 11 April 1874 in the book, warned that if women played cricket, men may have to sell hats.
Ms Zedda-Sampson said her research showed many of the problems women face now are no different to their forebears.
"When things happen to women now we tend to think they are new - but they are just shades of the past coming back again.
"A lot of the trouble women had in 1874 are seen in life and sport today. It's not a new problem."
The book will be launched at the Bendigo Town Hall on November 27.
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