England great Janette Brittin has been officially welcomed into the ICC Hall of Fame, paying credence to a career that was truly one for the ages. We look back on one of the most remarkable careers the sport has seen.
A batter of the highest calibre, Brittin dominated both red and white ball cricket in an international career that commenced in 1979 and finished in 1998.
Across those 19 years, she won a Cricket World Cup, scored 10 centuries and set almost every major batting benchmark in women’s Test cricket.
The former right-hander, who passed away at the age of 58 in 2017, was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday ahead of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 Final, alongside Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene and South Africa’s Shaun Pollock.
Here we look back on one of the most remarkable careers in the sport’s rich history.
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A QUIET START BEFORE A BLAZING RETURN
While Brittin farewelled the game in 1998 with seemingly every record under the sun to her name, hers was not the start of a superstar.
Making her international debut as a 19-year-old in 1979 against West Indies, Brittin made 34 runs at 11.33 across five Test innings batting below No.5 and was not required in the lone ODI she played.
With women’s cricket still played infrequently at the time, Brittin would not be seen in England colours again until 1982.
It was from here on that she became one of the most dominant players in the game.
After scores of one and naught in her first two games back for England in the Women’s World Cup, she made an unbeaten 138 against an International XI. She went on to top the run-scoring for the tournament with 391 at an average of 39.1 as England finished runners up to Australia. It would not be the last time she was the World Cup’s outstanding batter.
In 1984, as England returned to Test cricket, she again stamped her mark on the game, making an unbeaten 144 opening the batting against New Zealand. She would finish the three-Test series with an average of 112.66.
WORLD CUP GLORY
Brittin went on to be one of the World Cup’s dominant batters for the remainder of her career, amassing 1299 runs at an average of 43.30 in World Cup matches. Only New Zealand’s Debbie Hockley (1501 at 42.88) scored more. Across 36 matches at the showpiece event, she notched four centuries – a number matched only by compatriot Charlotte Edwards.
She backed up her table-topping first World Cup with a solid second, making 206 at 34.33 in the 1988 edition. Just as had been the case in 1982, England finished runners up to Australia in ’88 with Brittin making an unbeaten 46 in the final. It was the third consecutive time they had placed second to Australia, having finished behind their arch-rivals in a league format in 1978.
England and their star batter would not be denied in 1989, marching to the final for a third straight time.
It was a tournament dominated by their classy opener, who topped the run-scoring with 410 at 51.25 across eight innings, finishing 76 runs clear of the next highest run-scorer. She notched two hundreds for the tournament.
Fittingly, she took the winning catch in the final against New Zealand, pouching a skied chance at deep midwicket before being embraced by fans who had flooded onto the field at Lord’s. Of course, she was the top scorer in the match, making 48.
A STELLAR FINISH
Brittin’s final World Cup came in 1997 and she did not disappoint, amassing 292 runs at 48.66. This time around, England failed to reach the decider, bowing out at the semi-final stage in Chennai. Poignantly, as her era as England’s dominant batter came to an end, a young Edwards came to the fore, finishing as the team’s highest scorer for the campaign with 365 at 91.25.
Brittin called time on her cricket career a year later but looked like a player who could have carried on a while longer.
Having averaged 30 across three ODIs against Australia that year, she exited with a bang in the Test arena, averaging 112.50 in a three-match series.
She began the campaign with patient knocks of 146 and 59* before dominating Australia’s attack with 167 in the second Test, finishing her career with scores of 72 and six in her final match.
THE RECORDS SHE BROKE
By the time she retired in 1988, Brittin laid claim to most major batting records in women’s cricket.
Her 1935 Test runs remain the benchmark in women’s cricket, while she was second for the most ODI runs (2,121) when she retired. At that stage, she had the record for the most ODI tons.
She is still the record holder for women’s Test centuries with five, one clear of Edwards and three clear of any active players.
The first two of those centuries came in 1984, a year in which she amassed 531 runs at 75.85. That remains the benchmark for a Test calendar year in women’s cricket. She also has the bronze medal in that category courtesy of her 1998 haul of 450 at 112.5 with two centuries.
No one in women’s cricket has played more than her 27 Tests.
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