Cricket stalwart Mary Brito bowled over by MCC award

Such is her love of cricket, it is hard to get a word in when talking to Mary Brito.

Such is her love of cricket, it is hard to get a word in when talking to Mary Brito.

Mary Brito's  love of cricket bubbles over as she tells stories about "Dickie" Bird, seeing Donald Bradman score a hundred at Headingly in 1948 and coming to New Zealand to avoid Yorkshire winters.

And now  the 85 year old has joined a sporting elite that only a few can dream of.

Brito  recently became an Honorary Life Member of the Marylebone Cricket Club. Better known as the MCC, it is one of the most conservative sporting bodies in the world.

Mary Brito has only missed one women's cricket World Cup since it started in 1973. She is holding a picture of  the ...
PHOTO: NICHOLAS BOYACK/FAIRFAX/NZ

Mary Brito has only missed one women's cricket World Cup since it started in 1973. She is holding a picture of the teams from 1993. She was recently made an Honorary Life Member of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Based at Lords it considers itself the "guardian" of the laws of cricket.

Founded in 1787, females were banned for 211 years. England great Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, who almost single handily popularised women's cricket, had to fight hard to become the first female member in 1991.

READ MORE:
* Vettori joins illustrious group
* Debbie Hockley becomes first female president  
* Women's cricket pioneer Rachel Heyhoe-Flint dies

 

Fighting to get women's cricket recognised is something Brito has done all her life. Her story and love for the game is remarkable.

Growing up in the north of England, she played with a large group of boys from her village who played cricket at every opportunity.

After World War Two, the local club approached the boys and they formed a junior team.

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Women's cricket was virtually non-existent and Brito had little choice but to become the team's manager and scorer.

One of the boys was Harold Dennis "Dickie" Bird who would go onto become one of the most famous umpires of all time.

To describe Brito as a character hardly does her justice. She has a clipped accent that instantly identifies she is from Yorkshire.

Queuing up at 6am "with my pork pie and bottle of lemonade" to watch Bradman score 178 not out is her favourite sporting memory.

She claims to supports Yorkshire first, New Zealand second and England third.

So how did she get from Yorkshire to Lower Hutt?

Half Portuguese, she decided to head to a warmer climate where cricket was played. The first stop was Australia, where she represented South Australia.

Brito took her beloved Sunbeam car with her and fell foul of import duties. Told she would have to pay $1500 or export the car, she decided on a tour of New Zealand.

"And 48 years later, I am still here in Lower Hutt," she says with a huge grin.

Brito has worked hard to develop women's cricket internationally. She has been to every women's World Cup bar one, when India would not give her a visa as they apparently thought New Zealand should be represented by a man.

From 1974 to 1985 she was chairwoman of the New Zealand Women's Cricket Council, a period which included the development of the Rosebowl series against Australia and hosting the 1992 World Cup.

From 1995 to 2000 she was President of the International Women's Cricket Council.

Being chosen an MCC life member was a huge thrill for her.

Other New Zealanders include our best female player Debbie Hockley, Sir Richard Hadlee and New Zealand captains Daniel Vettori, Stephen Fleming and  Brendon McCullum.

"God and my bank manager willing" she is going to England later this year, to watch the women's World Cup, where she is hoping for an England New Zealand final.

"I will be 86 two days after the final at Lords."

Brito is a life member of New Zealand Cricket.

 

 - Stuff

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