England women’s fast bowler Kate Cross has become the first woman to play in the 123-year-old Central Lancashire League (CLL), after making her debut for Heywood Cricket Club men’s first XI away at Clifton Cricket Club yesterday.
Cross returned figures of 3-19 from her 7-over spell, to help Heywood CC secure an 8-wicket victory against Clifton CC in the first match of the 2015 CLL First XI Premier Division season.
Speaking after the match, Kate Cross said: “I never thought I would get the chance to play for the first team at Heywood, the club in which I grew up learnt my cricket. I’m extremely proud to be the first girl to play in our league and I hope we will see many more. It was even more special to get to play alongside my brother, one of my role models, after watching him break records for the club. I am very grateful to the Central Lancashire League for allowing me to play and I loved every minute of it.”
Kate’s older brother, Bobby Cross, also starred in Heywood CC’s win yesterday – scoring 75 out of a total of 123-2, to help chase down Clifton CC’s 121-8.
Bobby Cross said: “It was great to see Kate get the opportunity to play and I am just glad she did herself justice and bowled well. It was a big moment for her given how much it had been talked about but she took it in her stride and did really well.
“I really enjoyed being in the same team as her although I am sure she will never let me forget that I dropped a catch off her bowling! Hopefully we can help Heywood win many more games together.”
Heywood CC Chairman, John Rhodes, added: “Kate playing for the first eleven represented a very proud moment for the club. At a time when there is strong focus from the Lancashire Cricket Board and ECB on the development and growth of women’s cricket I am delighted that we continue to play a part in this exciting time for the women’s and girls’ game.
“Kate was selected on merit as being one of the best 11 players in the club and that in itself is credit to her for the hard work she puts in. I am delighted for her to have taken three wickets and to have contributed to the team winning their opening game of this, our 150th year as a club.”
Cross is the latest England women’s cricketer to play top level men’s club cricket, most notably following Arran Brindle, who made history by scoring 128 for Louth men’s first XI against Market Deeping in the ECB Lincolnshire Premier League in 2011.