[This article was originally written for the now defunct website, Cricketwoman. - RE]
Australian vice-captain Karen Rolton's unbeaten 107 in Sunday's Women's Cricket World Cup Final against India at Centurion was both the highest individual score and the first century scored in such a game.Australia's team total of 215 for 4 is the highest team total in a Women's World Cup Final, while Rolton's fourth-wicket partnership with Lisa Sthalekar is the largest partnership in a WCWC Final.
Although the first Women's World Cup was held in England in 1973, it wasn''t until the third World Cup, held in New Zealand in 1982, that a Final was played. In the first two World Cups (the second was in India in 1978), teams played in a round-robin tournament, with the team finishing first on the points table taking the Cup.
England won the 1973 World Cup with 20 points, with Australia the runners-up in the seven-team competition on 17 points. In 1978, when only four nations took part, Australia won the World Cup with 6 competition points, England finishing second with 4.
Coincidentally, in both the 1973 and 1978 World Cups, Australia and England were drawn to meet each other in the final round, and on both occasions the outcome of the match determined the winner of the whole tournament.
As a consequence, the misconception has arisen that the Australia v England games on the last day of the 1973 and 1978 World Cups were Finals when, in fact, they were not. Media reports published by several agencies following Sunday's World Cup Final published information based on the incorrect premise that there was a World Cup Final in the 1973 competition.
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, the victorious England captain in the 1973 World Cup, said in the 1976 history of women's cricket "Fair Play":
The last match between Australia and England, played in the presence of HRH Princess Anne was all but a final, for although the competition was on a league basis, it fortunately materialised that whoever won this match would win the league and the handsome Georgian Silver chalice donated by Jack Hayward.
Karen Rolton is the first, not the second, player to score a century in a Women's Cricket World Cup Final. Enid Bakewell's innings of 118 not out for England against Australia at Edgbaston in 1973 was scored in a round-robin game.
Imagine, if you will, a situation in football where Arsenal and Manchester United are in equal first place in the Premier League with one round to play, and with those two teams drawn to play each other on the final weekend. No matter how memorable the occasion, the game does not magically become a "Premier League Final". Such is the situation with the Women's Cricket World Cups of 1973 and 1978.
Karen Rolton 107 not out:
* First century in a Women's Cricket World Cup Final
* Previous highest score in a WCWC Final: 91, Belinda Clark, Australia v NZ, 2000
Australia 215 for 4 (50 overs):
* Highest team total in a WCWC Final
* Previous best: 195 for 5 (60 overs), England v NZ, 1993
* Previous best in a 50 overs-a-side Final: 184 all out (48.4 overs), NZ v Australia, 2000
Rolton/Sthalekar fourth wicket partnership 139:
* Highest partnership for any wicket in a WCWC Final
* Previous best, and only previous century partnership: 115* for 2nd wicket, Lindsay Reeler and Denise Annetts, Australia v England, 1988.