Olinda Cricket Club makes history

Olinda Cricket Club's first ever female team with Coach Keith Rae.

Olinda Cricket Club have hit gender barriers for six, with the club’s first ever women’s cricket team taking to the pitch for the first game of the season last week.

The women took to the field on Monday 23 November against Upwey Tecoma, finishing with 79 runs while their opponents fell 15 runs short on 64.

President of Olinda Cricket Club Matt Burgan said the club had been pushing hard to get more people involved and had a strong response this year from women wanting to play.

“We’ve sort of exploded and I think we are about two years ahead of where I thought we would be. The club was keen to try and get a women’s side up and was optimistic but realistic given the Covid situation, but incredibly people have responded,” Matt said.

Captain of the women’s team, Nikki Burgess said because her son plays cricket, she received the club’s call-out at the beginning of the season seeking kids and past players to get involved.

“I said yeah yeah, James will be playing but when are you going to get a girls’ team up. Next minute I had a job, the club said it was something they’d always wanted to do,” she said.

Ms Burgess expressed her idea for forming a team in school newsletters and on social media. While it was difficult at the beginning, she soon had plenty of mums and girls from the Dandenong Ranges eager to hit the field.

“Once people came and had a hit they realised it is really fun. We’ve almost got enough for two teams which is phenomenal,” she said.

“This is a big milestone, it’s been 109 years since the beginning of the club without a women’s team.

The club is also excited to welcome back life member Keith Rae, who has returned to the club after 30 years to coach the women’s side. Greg Box is also helping coach the women.

With many of the women having never picked up a cricket bat before, the excitement of winning their first game was “electric”, according to Ms Burgess.

“It was a great atmosphere, a lot of positivity and an edge of competition. You get a bunch of mums together and everyone thinks it’s all going to be fun and games, but everyone wants to win.

“We’re normally on the sideline cheering our kids so it’s really nice to walk out the door and say sorry, I’ve got my game on.

The women play on Monday nights and will continue to play Upwey Tecoma until more women’s teams are formed in the Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association (FTGDCA) league.

“We need the competition but on the flipside we’ve already made the finals,” Ms Burgess laughed.

FTGDCA Secretary Richard Millott said numerous clubs have listed down establishing female teams as a target to work towards and the amount of juniors coming through is really encouraging.

“Last year we had a trial program with The Basin and Upwey cricket clubs using a modified format encouraging women to get involved, and obviously Olinda have been in a position to work on that,” Mr Millott said.

“The trial formats are that next step towards getting an open age women’s program up and running so once we get a few more clubs realising their goals of having a women’s program we will be able to have an internal association.