Joan Wilkinson, who played thirteen Tests for England between 1949 and 1958, has died. Her funeral was held at Foulridge, Lancashire, on Tuesday April 23, the town where she passed away at home at the age of 83.
A right-handed batter and occasional spin bowler, Wilkinson was chosen for England's tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1948-49, where she played all Tests except the opening game of the Australian leg. She was in the team which hosted Australia in the 1951 season, and was England vice-captain when New Zealand toured in 1954.
She made a second tour of New Zealand and Australia with the England team in 1957-58, and it was during the Second Test against NZ at Eden Park, Auckland, that she registered her highest Test score of 90.
In all thirteen Tests she scored 436 runs at an average of 19.81, and took four wickets at 43.75 runs apiece. The bulk of her runs, including all of her three half-centuries, came in her six Test appearances against New Zealand.
Born in 1919, Wilkinson joined a newly-formed women's cricket team at Turf Moor, Burnley, when she was sixteen. During the Second World War she enlisted in the Women's Army Auxilliary and became a Flight-Sergeant. She remained with the WRAF long after the end of the war, and had to be given leave by the forces to play cricket for her country. She played county cricket for Lancashire and represented the North of England before being invited to take part in selection trials at The Oval in 1948. She later played for Cheshire while posted there, and captained the Combined Services women's team in 1951.
Wilkinson was also an adept hockey player - being selected in the WRAF's representative team - and played soccer for the Preston women's team following the War.
Joan Hawes, who was a team-mate on the 1957-58 tour, said of Wilkinson in her 1987 book Women's Test Cricket: The Golden Triangle:
What everyone remembers about Wilkie's cricket is the way she seemed to dance around the popping crease, playing forward to kill spin or drive the ball and, particularly, skipping back to cut the ball anywhere between the slip and cover point.... A tantalising leg-spinner she was very effective at breaking up a stubborn partnership... As a fielder in the silly mid-off positions she was extremely difficult to pass.