Clare Connor recalls ‘fairytale’ creation of Women’s Ashes trophy 25 years ago

Clare Connor recalls ‘fairytale’ creation of Women’s Ashes trophy 25 years ago

Former England captain Clare Connor said the creation of the Women’s Ashes trophy was “like a fairytale” as Lord’s prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the event.

The Ashes were created by burning bats signed by both England and Australia teams along with a copy of the Women’s Cricket Association rulebook in the Harris Garden at Lord’s in 1998.

It marked a special moment for the current ECB deputy chief executive officer and managing director England Women, who was 21 at the time and remembers the ceremony taking place with the help of a wok grabbed from the MCC kitchen.

“The ceremony was amazing, it was like a little fairytale,” Connor told the PA news agency.

“They built like a makeshift set of bricks in a square raised like a foot off the ground and we were in the Harris Garden with the teams on both sides.

England and Australia captains, Karen Smithies and Belinda Clark, Women’s Cricket Association president Norma Izard and MCC Secretary Roger Knight at the ceremony in the Harris Garden at Lord’s in 1998 where the Women’s Ashes were created (Cricket Australia)

“They got a wok from the MCC kitchen and the Ashes were created from the burning of the old Women’s Cricket Association rule book and miniature bats signed on both sides by Australia and England, so I was one of those signatures.

“There was some other bits of flammable stuff put in there to get it going and there was a little fire.

“The end result was a handful of ashes that then got housed in a really simple, humble, smallish size of a cricket ball trophy.”

The trophy remained intact up until the introduction of the multi-format Ashes series in 2013, but the ball can still be seen inside the new award.

Lord’s will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its creation on Saturday ahead of England’s final T20 clash against Australia.

A range of guests, including some of those involved in the original ceremony, will be in attendance for the unveiling of a plaque by MCC president Stephen Fry at the Harris Garden.

Women's Ashes
Australia captain Alyssa Healy and England captain Heather Knight with the Ashes trophy (Gareth Copley/Pool/PA)

“It was still unbelievably special and wonderful for us back then to be part of Ashes cricket,” said Connor, who believes women’s cricket has come a long way in 25 years.

“To be writing our names in a little piece of women’s cricket history through the creation of that trophy and our own sort of burning, creating our own physical ashes because we didn’t have any.

“There’s something really poignant about that looking back.

“Compare that day in summer of 1998 with Saturday in the summer of 2023 and they’re almost unrecognisable sports really.”

Saturday’s match is being held in partnership with the MCC Foundation in tribute to its ongoing work to promote women and girls’ cricket, reaching thousands each year as part of its cricket projects.

England Women v Australia Women – Second Vitality IT20 – The Kia Oval
England kept their Ashes hopes alive with a win at the Oval (Steven Paston/PA)

England kept the Women’s Ashes alive with a thrilling three-run victory at the Oval on Wednesday night to tie the T20 contests.

However, they still trail 6-2 in the series and, with three ODI matches to come, the hosts need to win their remaining games to stand a chance of reclaiming the trophy.

Connor, who won the 2005 Ashes, added: “If the crowd on Saturday get to experience what anybody has experienced so far this week at Edgbaston and the Oval then we’re all in for such a treat and another inspiring occasion.”

Tickets for the England v Australia Metro Bank Women’s T20 international at Lord’s are available from lords.org