Lorna Beal (née Larter), former Australian wicket keeper and one of the trailblazers of women’s cricket in history, has breathed her last on Monday at 96 years of age. On such a legendary cricketing figure’s unfortunate demise, the Australian cricket scene pays tribute to the player.
Born in 1923 in Hawthorn, Melbourne as Lorna Larter, she started playing cricket when she was 12 years old. She was selected to play for the South Hawthorn Ladies Cricket Club, where she scored around 2,000 runs between 1938/39 and 1950/51. Later she also played for the Victoria women’s cricket team.
A wicketkeeping batsman in her playing days, Lorna Beal made seven Test match appearances for Australia between 1948 and 1951, scored 72 runs, took seven catches and performed nine stumpings.
On 29th March 1948, she made her international debut against New Zealand Women, which has been recorded as the first ever Test match between the two neighbouring countries, and scored 13 runs.
Beal made her final international appearance during Australia Women’s tour of England at The Oval on 28th July 1951, when the team travelled to England via ship.
Following her retirement and marriage with Roy Beal, she took up golf, and joined the National Ladies’ Golf Union Council. Later, she became the Club Captain of the Box Hill Golf Club, and worked with the social group Pioneer Victorian Ladies Cricket Association.
A pioneer of women’s cricket: Lorna Beal passes away at 96
“Our thoughts are with Lorna’s family, as well as all the friends she made throughout her career,” said Nick Hockley, interim CEO of Cricket Australia, “There’s no doubt Lorna faced challenges that today’s players could never dream of, including spending six weeks at sea to get to England to play the game she loved.”
“It’s pioneers like Lorna who paved the way for future generations and have made the game what it is today. One of the best in the business behind the stumps, we pay our respects to Lorna and acknowledge the legacy she has left on the game of cricket,” Hockley added.
Several cricketers paid tribute to Beal on Twitter, including cricket commentator and former Aussie international Mel Jones.
“One of the true pioneers of @cricketvictoria & @AusWomenCricket Lorna Beal (née Larter – keeping) has passed aged 96. 7 tests, 6 weeks on the boat to England for an Ashes, oh the stories she had. Thanks for helping creating the pathway Lorna,” Jones tweeted.
One of the true pioneers of @cricketvictoria & @AusWomenCricket Lorna Beal (née Larter – keeping) has passed aged 96. 7 tests, 6 weeks on the boat to England for an Ashes, oh the stories she had. Thanks for helping creating the pathway Lorna. pic.twitter.com/ueCYnB6NUI
— Mel Jones (@meljones_33) August 10, 2020
The official Twitter handles of Cricket Victoria, Australian Cricketers’ Association and Australian Women’s Cricket Team also lamented Beal’s passing.
Cricket Victoria sends its condolences to the family of Lorna Beal (née Larter) after the former Australian and Victorian player passed away aged 96.
Beal was a pioneer for the game who played a significant role in creating a pathway for today’s players.https://t.co/BWraCurId1
— Cricket Victoria (@cricketvictoria) August 11, 2020
— Australian Cricketers' Association (@ACA_Players) August 11, 2020
We are sorry to hear of the passing of former Australian and Victorian cricketer Lorna Beal (nee Larter) aged 96.
Lorna, a keeper and batter, made her Australian debut in 1948 and played seven Tests, including a 1951 tour of England to which the Australians traveled via ship.
— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) August 10, 2020