Ex-cricketer Patsy Fayne broke gender barriers.
Ex-cricketer Patsy Fayne broke gender barriers.

Bowled over by history-maker mentor

WITH the summer of cricket over, the women's team at Noosa have kicked up their heels to celebrate their friendship with mentor Patsy Fayne.

The Tewantin Noosa Cricket Club team has just played its second year of the eight-team Coast competition with Patsy's strong support.

She gently led the lively group out of the first-year blues and through a second season, with plans for the next campaign already on the table.

At first glance, the 72-year-old may have seemed an unlikely mentor for this fledgling, youthful team - until Patsy's cricketing heritage was revealed.

Patsy was a member of the first Australian women's team to compete at Lord's. This was the first time women had competed at the famed venue. And bowler Patsy was also the first to take an Australian women's wicket at Lord's. Sadly, that year England trounced Australia.

Patsy started playing backyard cricket as a child. Her older brother - who was bigger and stronger than her - owned the bat but he needed a bowler.

"He took his little sister (Patsy) and bashed her up," Patsy reminisces. "I used to practise at One Tree or one stump just to get my brother out. I didn't plan to play for Australia."

 

Patsy Fayne (right) with Noosa team members captain Paula McKie,Kirsty Patten and Trina Feuerherdt.
Patsy Fayne (right) with Noosa team members captain Paula McKie,Kirsty Patten and Trina Feuerherdt.

 

Once at university, Patsy rediscovered her love for cricket, playing for her tertiary institution, then for NSW and then Australia.

But by 1976 Patsy decided to give up cricket. She was broke. Everything she did had to be paid out of her own pocket. Then in 2018 a news piece in the local paper caught Patsy's eye and she showed the story to her proud husband, Michael.

"I hadn't been around cricket for 40 years, but then I thought maybe I can just go visit them and see if I can help, just while they get started," Patsy said.

"A week or two. Teach them to run between wickets. Just the basics of the game."

When Patsy walked into the come-and-try day for the newly formed Tewantin Noosa Cricket Club women's team, no one there had any idea who this sprightly older woman was and why she had turned up.

"I told them I had played a bit of cricket and I was happy to help out as I lived in the area," the understated Patsy said.

One of the women trying out on the first day mentioned her aunt was Miriam Knee, the captain of the Australian women's team that competed at Lord's in 1976. Patsy piped up: "She was my captain.''

 

Patsy Fayne in action at Lord's.
Patsy Fayne in action at Lord's.

 

The team's co-founder and now captain Paula McKie said when she found out about Patsy's history, "it was like a celebrity coming in".

Patsy has consciously stayed in the background as much as possible, allowing the women to manage the team's development.

Paula said Patsy had attended the training and meetings and helped iron out some of the intricacies of a women's cricket team.

"Her contribution has been huge," Paula said.

Fellow team member Trina Feuerherdt said: "The impact Patsy has had from the get-go has been incredible.

"What she has brought with her to the girls has been empowering. To think this woman played for Australia and she wants to come and help us. For me, that was huge."

Both Paula and Trina acknowledged the team probably wouldn't have made it through to the second season without Patsy's unwavering belief in their abilities and her willingness to share both her cricket knowledge and life experiences.

"We want to make her proud of us," Paula said.

Just not cricket

"They wouldn't be allowed to print a photo like that now," Patsy said of a front-page story, which ran in a Sydney newspaper in 1976, accompanied by a photo of the women partly dressed in the changing room. "That was our first time at Lord's. We were just practising. They took photos of people playing cricket, but that's what hit the paper. They broke into our changeroom - ran in, took a photo and ran out."

Patsy remembers being almost shouldered as the photographer burst in.

"If I was smarter, I would have shouldered them back," she said.

"I think we were so desperate for publicity that we just appreciated the publicity. But it was the wrong publicity we were getting. I felt violated, a little bit really; how dare they?"


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