Clare Connor has paid tribute to Jan Brittin, England’s leading Test run-scorer, who has died at the age of 58.
In addition to scoring 1,935 runs in 27 Test appearances and 2,121 runs in 63 One-Day Internationals, with five centuries in each, Brittin had the distinction of top-scoring with 48 in England’s 1993 World Cup final win against New Zealand at Lord’s – and also of taking the winning catch.
Surrey, for whom Jan also played, today lowered the flag at the Kia Oval to half mast during their Specsavers County Championship fixture against Yorkshire in tribute.
“JB was was one of the most quiet and unassuming cricketers you could meet, but she was pure class,” said Connor, the ECB’s Director of England Women’s Cricket. “An outstanding cricketer and a truly lovely person. In a year when England have again won the World Cup at Lord’s, we should not forget the huge contribution JB made to the development and success of women's cricket in this country.
“For girls of my generation she was our first real female role model. She batted with grace and timing – a classical opener, so beautiful to watch.”
“For girls of my generation she was our first real female role model. She batted with grace and timing – a classical opener, so beautiful to watch. She was also a brilliantly athletic cover fielder.
“JB was born to play Test cricket and it's unlikely that her record in this format will ever be beaten. She also had a fine record in the one-day game, and of course she made that significant contribution to England’s World Cup win at Lord’s in 1993.
“She played for England for two decades at a time when the women’s game was totally amateur. Despite being a conventional batsman, in personality she was quirky and unconventional. I was in awe of her when I came into the England set-up as an 18-year-old. She was a legend, a class apart. More than anyone else, the coaches included, it was her respect that I craved, and for her to think I could play.
“She will be remembered so fondly by the women's cricket fraternity as well as by her numerous friends in the golfing world. She was a wonderful golfer as I found out when I was lucky enough to play a round with her in Calcutta on my first England tour, aged just 19. I remember feeling star-struck. The irony is not lost on me now, for nobody could have played international sport with more modesty than JB.
“On behalf of the ECB and the England women’s team, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Jan's family and friends.”
In the course of scoring 48 in the 1993 World Cup final, Brittin also became the first woman to score 1,000 World Cup runs. Recalling the moment she walked out to bat, she said: “Never before have I gone out… with tears in my eyes, caused by the wonderful ovation from the members who lined our path through the Long Room, followed by the crowd's reception as we walked out to the middle.”
But her most memorable single contribution came much later in the day, as described by the Guardian’s cricket correspondent Mike Selvey. “With the game already beyond reach and nothing to lose, Catherine Campbell, the Kiwis' last batsman, hit hard and high to deep midwicket. Brittin was lurking. As the ball steepled away towards the Grandstand, she dashed to her left and took the catch as it came over her right shoulder: dropping it was never an issue. Up went her arms – the ball was last seen heading aerially towards Swiss Cottage – and she stampeded off into the arms of the awaiting supporters who had already streamed out of the stand and flooded on to the pitch.”