The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) is breaking new ground this weekend, with two MCC teams competing in the Victorian Women's Cricket Association elite competition for the first time.
At a cocktail party on Wednesday night in the Long Room to celebrate the occasion, MCC president Paul Sheahan continued the club tradition of presenting those named in the First XI with the famous MCC "hoops" cap.
The club's inaugural captain, 18-year-old Anna O’Donnell, addressed the gathering on behalf of the players and commented on how proud they were to be representing the MCC.
She noted that while they may lack some experience at the top level, all players are looking forward to developing and improving their skills and becoming more and more competitive as the season progresses.
The First XI takes on reigning premier Essendon Maribyrnong Park at Aberfeldie Park, while the Second XI plays Brighton District at Dendy Park in Brighton. View the fixture of matches here.
On the same day, our four men’s teams kick off the Premier Cricket competition against North Melbourne.
With the MCC established in 1838, the 2012/13 season will mark the first time in its 174-year history that it has fielded women's cricket teams.
Further to fielding a team in the Essteele Premier Firsts, the MCC will field a Seconds outfit and will also run a junior development program for girls, all part of the requirements of being a VWCA Premier Club.
The club’s home ground, Albert Cricket Ground, will be used as a training base for the women’s teams and will also host VWCA matches when available.
Underlining the MCC's commitment to the move, Demons legend and Team of the Century wicketkeeper Robert Templeton has been appointed head coach of the women’s program.
Templeton, who coached the men’s side in 2008/09, played in five MCC First XI premierships and in 302 matches effected an all-time record of 671 dismissals.
Over the years, some of the game’s most decorated players have represented the MCC including Bill Ponsford, Warwick Armstrong, Max Walker, Dean Jones and more recently Brad Hodge and Andrew McDonald.
"We are determined to make a significant contribution to developing women’s cricket, and having teams in elite competition is a core element,” MCC Cricket chairman David Crow said.
“This is an exciting development in the rich history of MCC cricket.
"An enormous amount of time and energy has been invested to get us to this point and we are confident that our players and coaching staff will represent the club with distinction.”