IT was on a sun-kissed July 7, 1934, that cricket history was witnessed by a large, if somewhat curious crowd in Winchester .

For the first time, Hampshire faced Australia but in a unique format. It was a women's match.

Though organised cricket had been played in Australia since the middle of the 19th century, a few states played under the banner of the Southern Stars but in 1931, all the mainland teams amalgamed at a special council meeting designed to foster the game, and three years later a party embarked on their first overseas tour.

Following a comfortable success against a West of England side, they played Hampshire in a one-day game at the Green Jackets Ground in St Cross with virtually a full-strength side.

Such was the depth of talent, they rotated their squad and omitted from the line-up was crack batsman Hazel Pritchard, who months later held the distinction of facing the first-ever ball in a test match when England visited Australia and New Zealand, and spinner Peggy Antonio. As a young girl, she found work in a local shoe factory in Melbourne, the home of a women's team.

Hampshire were led by the formidable batter and wicketkeeper Peggy Snowball, a Winchester school teacher. Though only a shade over 5ft tall, she was incredibly nimble and could reach out for a ball because of her excellent footwork. During her international career, she scored more than 600 runs at a rate of 40.6 per innings. Regarded as the outstanding wicketkeeper of her generation, she took 13 catches and six stumpings in her ten-match international career. An all round sportswoman, she also represented Scotland in squash and lacrosse.

The home side were bolstered by Patricia Backhouse, who was then studying geography at Oxford University and went on to teach. Supremely fit, she trekked in the Himalayas and climbed every Welsh peak. A fanatical rugby enthusiast, she supported England against her family who cheered on Wales, and also captained her local golf club. She died aged 101.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Another team member was Ruth Maddox, best remembered as an international hockey player rather than a useful cricketer.

Hampshire won the toss and elected to bat on what was a slow pitch. Snowball and Maddox opened to face Kathleen Smith, a fast left arm bowler, and Nell McLarty, a medium fast right arm bowler who played for Australia between 1934 and 1937, claiming 11 wickets. And it was the Western Australian who was to claim the prize wicket of Snowball in the first over. Described as "a deceiving delivery," it eluded Snowball's defence and struck the leg stump - Hampshire 0-1!

"The hope of the home side was gone," lamented the local journalist of the dramatic moment.

The incoming batter C Hudson and Maddox treated the bowling with the utmost caution and ten minutes had elapsed before Hudson clouted a four. But then disaster struck. Maddox missed a full toss from Smith and was bowled. Hampshire 6-2.

Wickets fell at constant intervals and only three players reached two figures. In less than two hours, Hampshire crumbled to just 65 all out.

Smith was the chief architect of their downfall. In ten overs, five of them maidens, she took five wickets for ten runs.

The visitors batted for 45 minutes before lunch, losing skipper Margaret Peden, later to become the first Australian captain in a test match, for just nine, brilliantly caught by Mrs Herman-Worsley despite slipping.

Undeterred, they passed Hampshire's modest total for the loss of three wickets before declaring at 149-6. Amy Hudson, who took three wickets, enhanced her burgeoning reputation with an undefeated 35.

The tea interval revitalised Hampshire who in about an hour scored 120 runs with Maddox and Snowball making 32 and 20 not out respectively before stumps were drawn.