London: Eileen Ash, the world's oldest Test cricketer, has died at the age of 110, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Saturday.
Eileen played seven Tests for England in the 1930s and 1940s, taking 10 wickets at an average of 23 with her right-arm pace bowling.
She participated in the Ashes tour of Australia in 1949 apart from playing representative cricket for Civil Service Women, Middlesex Women and South Women in domestic arena.
"The England and Wales Cricket Board is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Eileen Ash at the age of 110. Ash, who made her Test debut against Australia in 1937, was a remarkable woman who led an extraordinary life. A right-arm seamer, Ash (née Whelan) made her Test debut against Australia at Northampton in 1937 and went on to represent her country on seven occasions either side of World War II, retiring in 1949," said the ECB in a statement.
Apart from her cricket career, Eileen also worked for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, during World War II. "Eighty years after she made her international debut, Ash rang the bell at a sold-out Lord's ahead of England Women's memorable victory in the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup final. Two years later, in 2019, a portrait of Ash was unveiled at the Home of Cricket, a ground at which she was afforded life-long honorary MCC Membership. She played golf until the age of 98, and in 2017, aged 105, she demonstrated her extraordinary energy in a yoga session with current England Women's captain Heather Knight. Ash received messages from the cricketing world earlier this year, when she celebrated her 110th birthday in October," further read the statement.
Clare Connor, the former England cricketer, who currently serves as ECB's managing director of women's cricket and the MCC's president, mourned her demise. "Our sport owes so much to its pioneers and Eileen was one of them. I am deeply sad to be saying goodbye to her today. Heather and I went to visit Eileen about six months before the 2017 ICC Women's World Cup. She was 105 at the time and it was one of the most remarkable experiences."
"Eileen taught Heather yoga, we played snooker, we drank cups of tea and we leafed through newspapers and scrapbooks celebrating Eileen's time as a player in the 1930s and 1940s. She regaled us with some amazing stories, including how she came to have her bat signed by Sir Donald Bradman at a French restaurant in Sydney in 1949!"
"I know neither of us will ever forget that day, it was so special. Our thoughts and prayers are with Eileen's family as they come to terms with losing such a wonderful woman and the end of an astonishing life."