The England & Wales Cricket Board is saddened to hear the news that Norma Izard OBE passed away at the end of December, aged 90.
Norma was a pioneer who did so much to advance the women’s game. Her tireless efforts and enduring commitment over several decades helped lay the foundations for the future growth of the sport.
Like many other female cricketers of her era she trained as a PE teacher, at Dartford College. An all-round sportswoman, she played for Kent from the age of 17 and went on to play regularly for the County side and the East of England before pausing to raise a family.
After returning to playing (and teaching), she captained Kent 2nd XI before moving into cricket management first as a junior organiser and selector, and eventually as chair of Kent. Her involvement with the national team started with her appointment to the post of Manager of the first ever Junior England side in 1981.
Norma played in her last cricket match at the age of 50 in 1983 and became the England Women’s Manager in 1984. She spent nine years with the team – her role often encompassing far more than just ‘Manager’ suggests – at a time in which the sport was very much amateur. There was no financial remuneration for the role and she worked full-time as a teacher until 1986.
Norma signed off as Manager in 1993 as England Women won the World Cup at Lord’s. Modestly, she spoke to ESPNCricinfo in 2017 and was keen to downplay her role, despite her clear impact: “I was thrilled for them, but it wasn't a personal achievement for me. It was their win, not mine".
She went on to become President of the Women’s Cricket Association (WCA), and indeed was the last person to hold the role as she oversaw the merger of the WCA with the ECB in 1998.
Norma was awarded an OBE in 1995 for her service to cricket, and was one of the first 10 women to be awarded MCC Membership in 1999 when the MCC changed its rules to allow female members.
ECB Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director England Women, Clare Connor, said: “It’s desperately sad to hear that Norma has passed away. On behalf of the ECB, and indeed on behalf of everyone in the game, I would like to place on record the game’s thanks to Norma, and share our best wishes with her family and friends.
“I was lucky enough to know Norma for many years. She was a huge support to me both during my playing days and well beyond – as she was to so many women in the game.
“We are rightly proud of where women’s cricket sits in 2024 but we must never take for granted that it is built on the indefatigable spirit and resilience of groundbreaking women like Norma who worked so hard to grow the game in an era of little support.”