Women's cricket has experienced a revolution in the modern game, with the Women's Ashes attracting record crowds, viewing figures and interest.
The Hundred has also provided some of the finest players in the world an opportunity to prove their skills on a grand stage – but there are a number of legends and trailblazers throughout the decades who deserve to be recognised among the all-time greats in this sport.
RadioTimes.com brings you a round-up of the best women's cricket players of all time.
Rachael Heyhoe Flint (England, 1960 – 1982)
It’s impossible to think of England women’s cricket without mentioning the trailblazing former captain whose antics off the pitch were as game-changing as those on it. The dominant batter could play any situation whether that be taking on bowlers with extreme aggression or playing determined defence.
She became England captain in 1966 and was unbeaten in six consecutive series. In 1973, it was she who lifted the World Cup, having been the firestarter for setting the tournament up (two years before the men’s.) In 1976, she made a stunning 179 batting for 521 minutes aged 37 – the record for Test runs at the time. With three Test hundreds and one in an ODI, she finished her career averaging almost 46 in Tests and over 58 in ODIs. Following her retirement, she continued to bang the drum for women’s cricket and was one of the first women admitted to the MCC in 2004. There is now a gate at Lord’s honouring her achievements both on and off the pitch.
Karen Rolton (Australia, 1995 – 2009)
The rapid-scoring top-order batter is one of the most fluent to grace the crease. Her ability to take the game away was evident in particular in Tests and she remains Australia’s leading run scorer with 1002 in 14 matches, a high score of 209* and an average in the mid-70s. She was integral to her team’s successes and made a century in the 2005 World Cup final to help Australia claim a fifth World title.
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She was also named player of the final and the series. In 2006, she took over as captain and topped the year off by winning the inaugural ICC Female Player of the Year award. She continued to shine on a global stage before retiring in 2010 after playing a world-record 141 ODIs. The Adelaide Oval has since been named the Karen Rolton Oval in her honour.
Debbie Hockley (New Zealand, 1979 – 2000)
The White Ferns legend played 118 ODIs scoring 4064 runs including 34 fifties and four hundreds and averaging over 40. Numbers and records surround Hockley, who became the first woman to reach 4000 runs as well as the first to play 100 ODIs. Along the way, she scored two World Cup centuries in 40 World Cup games.
She was just as impressive in Test matches with 1301 runs in 19 matches, including another four hundreds and seven fifties plus a high score of 126*. In 2016, she became the first woman to become the New Zealand Cricket President. Then, in 2023, New Zealand Cricket announced that a Debbie Hockley Medal for outstanding female cricketer of the year would be introduced.
Mithali Raj (India, 1999 – 2002)
Possibly India’s most famous female player, “Lady Tendulkar of Indian Women’s Cricket” is the highest-ever run-scorer in women’s international cricket and the only woman to pass 7000 runs. On top of this, she was the first player to score seven consecutive 50s and holds the record for the most ODI half-centuries with 64. Having started her cricket journey aged ten, she was named as a ‘probable’ for the 1997 World Cup but didn’t make her ODI debut until 1999, where she scored an unbeaten 114.
In 2002, aged just 19, she broke the world record for the highest Test score (209* by Karen Rolton) when she scored 214 against England. She was appointed permanent captain of India in 2005 and became a force to be reckoned with off the field in her bid to professionalise the women’s game in India and make it a viable career for Indian girls. Her stroke play will long live in the coaching manual of dreams and she topped off her records in becoming the first woman to complete two decades of international cricket.
Cathryn Fitzpatrick (Australia, 1991 – 2007)
Clocked at 75mph, the Australian quick spent 16 years as the world’s fastest female bowler. But it wasn’t just raw pace, it was her ability to keep incredibly low economy rates (1.91 in Tests and 3.01 in ODIs) that made her so formidable. In June 2005, she became the first female to pick up 150 ODI wickets and the next year claimed her 100th ODI appearance for Australia.
In just 13 Test matches she took 60 wickets, including two five-wicket and six four-wicket hauls while her ODI best bowling figures of 5-14 speak for themselves. She is regarded as one of the first genuine pace bowlers in the women’s game and there are still few that can hit the dizzy speeds of this Australian.
Sarah Taylor (England, 2006 – 2019)
Cited by Adam Gilchrist in 2018 as “the best keeper in the world, male or female, to ever play the game, Sarah Taylor will long be remembered as a game-changer behind the stumps. She set the standard when it came to keeping, especially standing up to the stumps during the 2010s and as part of England’s dominant sides that did the double at the World Cups in 2009 and took the trophy in 2017.
In the semi-final of that 2017 tournament, she hit 54 in the semi-final against South Africa and 45 in the final. Her way of keeping innovated the role of a wicket-keeper and few will ever forget the incredible catch she took to dismiss Australia’s captain Jodie Fields. If you’ve not seen it…check it out!
Belinda Clark (Australia, 1991 – 2005)
The right-handed batter took just two weeks after making her debut to score her first international hundred when on her Test debut. From there, she kept breaking records and was the first woman to score a double hundred in an ODI as well as clocking a total of 4844 runs in the format including five hundreds and 20 fifties to go with two Test hundreds and six fifties.
She captained Australia for eleven years leading them in 101 matches with a win percentage of 83% and winning two World Cups (1997 and 2005) plus coming close in 2001 when Australia lost to New Zealand in the final despite Clark’s 91. In 2014 she became the first woman inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and the second into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2023 she was honoured with a bronze statue at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Jhulan Goswami (India 2002 – 2022)
In a career that spanned two decades, Goswami was famed for being one of the fastest bowlers in the game. The beginning of her career saw her inspired by watching the 1992 World Cup on TV and therefore inspired her to take the train from Chakdaha to Kolkata to train as there were no local facilities she could use. Her pace, plus an ability to force deviations off the pitch, saw her pick up a staggering 44 Test wickets, 255 ODI wickets and 56 T20 wickets including six five-wicket hauls across the formats and 10 wickets in a Test match.
She was awarded the ICC Women’s Player of the Year award in 2007 before then winning the M.A. Chidambaram trophy for Best Women's Cricketer in 2011. Her iconic action was one that is difficult to replicate but it reaped rewards in a career. She made history as part of the Indian women’s team who won a Test series for the first time ever in the 2006-2007 series, where she made fifty as a night watcher and picked up 10 wickets in the game. In March 2022, she became the highest wicket-taker in Women's World Cup history overtaking the record of Lyn Fullston, and there is now even a Netflix biopic being made about her.
Enid Bakewell (England, 1968 – 1982)
Bakewell is possibly the best all-rounder England has ever produced. It was obvious from her debut that she would be a star when she made a hundred on debut when opening the batting against Australia in 1968. In 12 matches, she made 1078 runs at an average of almost 60 that included four hundred and seven fifties. She also took 50 wickets including best figures of 7-61 with her left-arm orthodox spin.
She was just as prolific in ODIs, making two hundreds and two fifties in 23 matches. Her crowning moment came in the first Cricket World Cup in 1973, where she made 118 and took two wickets in the final against Australia at Edgbaston. She was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2012, becoming the third female cricketer (after Rachel Heyhoe Flint and Belinda Clark) and was awarded an MBE in the 2019 New Year Honours. Aged 82, she is still playing cricket!
Lisa Sthalekar (Australia, 2001 – 2013)
The former Australian captain was a prolific right-handed batter and off-spinner, and was considered the best in the world when rankings were first introduced. Her story is different to that usual journey into cricket. After being placed in an orphanage as a child in Pune, she was adopted by an American family who eventually settled in Sydney - which was where her love affair with cricket cemented.
Having excelled at domestic level, Sthalekar was called up to Australia’s ODI team in 2001. Despite not initially shining, she developed as a cricketer and made 416 runs in eight Tests, 2728 in 125 ODIs and 769 in 54 ODIs including one Test hundred and two ODI hundreds. The off-spinner also claimed 23 Test wickets and 146 ODI wickets including a five-wicket haul in both. Hers was the fielding that sealed Australia’s nail-biting victory in the 2019 T20 World Cup final. She is now an esteemed commentator and is often found giving insight into international games from Test matches to World Cups for both men and women.