ICC World Cup 2015 – South Africa v India: Betty Wilson honoured as the Pirates of India rise again

from February 22, 2015


India 7/307

Shikhar Dhawan 137 (146), Ajinkya Rahane 79 (60)

South Africa 177

Faf du Plessis 55 (71), Ravichandran Ashwin 3/41 (10)


India won by 130 runs


Betty Wilson was my Dad’s aunty. She was a younger sister of his Dad, George. George played footy for Collingwood. Betty was Australia’s greatest women’s cricketer.

Today Dad had been invited to accept, on Betty’s behalf, her inauguration into the ICC Hall of Fame. He and Mum were off to the MCG to sit and dine with luminaries. He was also to be on the ground at the change-of-innings for a ceremony (appearing alongside Anil Kumble, also receiving the recognition).


And so I sniffed around for tickets.

Sniffed with the concentration of a great white shark, but to no avail.

Never mind.

– Will he be on TV? – Buddy Yum asked.

– Not on our TV – I answered.

– Oh. Will he be on Fox-tail?



Checking Twitter, India had won the toss and chosen to bat.


Sweltering, the Buds and I were off to that great community leveller: the local pool. A couple of weeks ago while splashing about there, Paul Kelly sauntered by in his trunks. I followed at a covert distance, happily seeing him meet up with Vika and Linda Bull on the street outside.


Today it was a great splash, despite an absence of music royalty. Making to leave at around 5pm, I took out my phone to find a message from brother J Wilson.

– I’ve got tickets. Have a spare. We’re on the train. Let me know.




I explained the situation to the Buds in the car. We flicked on ABC Grandstand to hear Aggers say there were 15 overs left. I figured that gave me a bit more than an hour to get to the G.


Heat and humidity were no match for a World Cup appointment. I jumped aboard the iron horse for a swift pedal to Jolimont.

Past a trio raising pale green cans on the grass of Park Street linear path, past a cricket game in the lengthening shadows at the Brunswick Street Oval, past tables on the footpath outside the Napier. I was setting a personal best time trial pace.

Tethering ol’ Steel to the fence by the MCC members at Jolimont, I was sweating up a storm. Running (unfortunately the long way) around to Gate 6 raised an even more spectacular sweat.

There was J Wilson. There was the ticket.

I was in.



But where am I? Is this Melbourne Town or Mumbai-by-the-sea? The heat warmth heat and humidity fog blanket transport me to tropical places. And the many-headed dancing jumping swaying blue creature of the flag wielding waving clutching Indian supporters have me abroad.

This is the MCG as I’ve never known.

It’s full. It’s a party.

MCG as Mumbai

MCG as Mumbai

Nephew B Wilson greets me as I arrive and S Dhawan holes out as I arrive and I’ve made good time and I see now the closing overs of India’s mammoth innings as it climbs climbs bursts to 7/307 with boundaries and shouting and waving and flag brandishing and drumming and even an almost unnoticed piped solo played on a blue recorder.

Here spectacle is everything.

Flames leap with immense heat from the sight screen as exclamation marks to on-field events, adding pizzazz and alarm to the occasion. They are hot.

Flags flags flags everywhere flags and it’s happiness abounding on the dancing writhing moving collective body mass of Indians at the break.




It’s the ICC presentation.

One of those backdrop boards is erected such that it totally obscures the view we may have had of Dad. So we watch on the big screen.

Mark Nicholas is the MC. He does well. Anil Kumble rightfully gets a mighty cheer and is then interviewed (unexpectedly).

– Does this mean Dad will be interviewed?

Well yes, it did mean that. And Dad helpfully points out to M Nicholas that Betty’s bowling was perhaps even better than her batting, and so the “Female Bradman” moniker may be a touch wide of the mark.

– More like the female Garfield Sobers, then? – suggests M Nicholas, to Dad’s agreement.




And the South African innings is underway after theatrical countdowns and noise and fire and it’s still 32.2 degrees Celsius at 7:31pm and an intense thunderstorm-ish looking collection of pixels blinks across the Bureau radar south west of us. Indian many-headed creature of music and movement exploding with a fall of wicket.

Blue recorder

South Africa lose their first wicket; time for the blue recorder

The duties of ground announcer now are given special World Cup appeal as the usual mundane suburban minutiae explode onto the full globe with this one:

– Would Akash Mehta of Singapore please go to the Gate 5 administration office.


And South Africa are making heavy going of this India in this beating cauldron of mini-India. And batting like they are unaware of the recent revolution in 50 over cricket and unaware of the likes of B McCullum and J Faulkner and even of the concept of T20 cricket itself. South Africa lose wickets even without applying any sense of urgency and without improvision and without imagination and without ever trying really to impose or to reveal any aspect of creative thinking.


‘Jai ho’ blares around the mini-India.

AB de Villiers is run out. And with that the contest dies.


All now is show, as before, but is show for show’s sake. We have whistles, recorders, portable timpanis. We have selfie-sticks and beer and (more) dancing. And V Philander reveals a queer sense of timing in his (ill-advised) decision to refer his lbw dismissal with the score already at 6/153 and the horses long gone from the stables. The beast is revealed now to have 86,876 heads this night and I’d estimate 60,000 of them are bouncing away at 10pm as the last wicket falls in the 29 degree night.




I meet up with Mum and Dad afterwards.

We chat about their day.

Photos with A Kumble.

Dinner along from S Tendulkar.

But talking isn’t working. The beating leaping twisting snake of India has a volume, 30 minutes now after stumps, such that we have to shout to be heard.

For me, this is new.

It’s wonderful.

I’m around to the MCC to collect my bike when faced with a memorable scene.

The Melbourne Cricket Club members, temporarily given over to the public during this ICC event, has been taken. Flags, drums, whistles, flags, jumping, dancing, flags and blue shirts everywhere. The Pirates of India have taken the MCC. The Pirates of India are back on the cricketing High Seas.

Today South Africa, tomorrow the world?

MCC taken

Pirates of India take the MCC


Cricket Australia story on the two inductions to ICC Hall of Fame:



About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Shout out to Russell Jackson for tweeting this morning a link to this interview with Betty from a few years ago.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    That’s a cracking interview

    “Wilson was 37 years old at the time. She remembers it like it was yesterday. “I was still very active, still vital, still trying hard, and that was the best year of my career. England put us in to bat and we were all out for 38 and I was the top scorer with 12. England were killing themselves laughing. But they were all out for 35. I took 7 for 7, which included the first hat-trick in women’s Test cricket.” She followed that up with a century in the second innings and another four wickets to achieve the record.”

  3. Excellent, David. Just excellent.

  4. Good call Swish.
    Thanks Smokie.

    And on the Pirates – what better character than rollicking Shikhar Dhawan of the waxed moustache tips and earring bonanza? Practically has a cutlass swinging from his belt.

  5. neilbelford says

    Brilliant David – and very impressive lineage.

  6. Grand stuff ER. You know how to pack a lot into a day – and a life.
    As Neil B observed you have a grand sporting lineage. As a student of breeding (Mr Magic was my favourite – by Rajah Sahib out of Miss Wonderbox) I notice that the talent seems to come more from the dam line than the sire line.
    Hope you have the Buds enrolled in the AIS.

  7. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Great work ER,
    Few have an Aunty Betty who was a Champion cricketer. Pretty impressive batting average to boot.

  8. Great account of events Dave. I’ve never seen or heard the G like it either. The train ride home was pretty noisy too.
    What a fantastic day we had….AB would have loved it.
    Your writing continues to impress.

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic OBP and rapt that you managed to be at the g ! A fantastic day and night which you will remember for ever . The Indian spectators make us look like
    Marcel Marceau ! Go the Wilsons !

  10. So pleased that I put my marking aside for a few minutes to read this piece Dave. I have always been interested in Betty Wilson for three reasons – 1) she is related to you, 2) she shares her name with my mum, 3) I feel somewhere deep within me that I could have been a good little cricketer if I had have worried less about what other girls thought of me…. And I just don’t know what is cooler – Paul Kelly at the local pool, your mum and dad having lunch with Tendulker or the guy who bought his blue recorder to the cricket! A GREAT article… now back to the marking….

  11. Thanks all for your generosity.
    Thanks Jeanette (Mum) – for others, “AB” there, as she was widely known, stands for Aunty Betty. She would sign our birthday cards “G.A.B.” with the prefix Great (for generational reasons).
    She lived in Perth for many years when I was a youngster, but I remember the sense of importance I felt when facing up to her in backyard cricket.
    Always competitive and analytical of any cricket match we were playing down at Banyule CC, too. Discussing field placements, bowling changes, the merits of attack and defence.
    This is not the place to get too far into this.
    But again, thanks.

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Glad you made it to the “G Dave. What a player AB must have been. First player, male or female, to score a century and take 10 wickets in a Test. Superstar. Fantastic she has been recognisied in this way, congratulations to the Wilson family. Well deserved.

    I had an offer of a free ticket to go on Sunday and would loved to have been there but the Under 16 team I coach were playing their last game of the season. As my team were putting in one of their worst performances of the season I couldn’t help but think how good it would have been to have been at the ‘G with 86000 mostly Indians instead. The atmosphere looked amazing. Thanks for taking us there ER.

  13. Brilliant day Dave. Glad you were there for it.

    “England were killing themselves laughing. But they were all out for 35. I took 7 for 7, which included the first hat-trick in women’s Test cricket,” as recounted by AB (and included above by Swish) is now one of the great sporting quotations. Superb.

  14. Good on you Luke. Shame about your side’s performance, but terrific that you were there to facilitate it. Hats off.

    Cheers Mickey.
    GAB could certainly tell a story.
    You can just picture that scene…

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