Oldest living England women’s cricketer 105 year old Eileen Ash from Norwich opens play at ICC final at Lord’s

English women's cricketer Eileen Ash, now 101, with the bat signed for her by Sir Don Bradman on New

English women's cricketer Eileen Ash, now 101, with the bat signed for her by Sir Don Bradman on New Year's Day in 1949. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

One of Norwich's oldest residents and oldest living former England women's cricketer Eileen Ash has rung the bell to open play at the ICC Women's World Cup Final at Lord's.

Eileen Ash coming in to bat for the England women's cricket team at Colwall in 1936.

Eileen Ash coming in to bat for the England women's cricket team at Colwall in 1936. - Credit: Submitted

105 year-old Eileen, who played seven Test matches for England either side of World War Two, signalled the beginning of the match between England and India.

Born in north London, she made her Test debut for England against Australia at Northampton in 1937 as a specialist bowler, and played three Test matches in all that summer, taking 10 wickets.

She didn't feature for England again until twelve years later, touring Australia and New Zealand and playing four further Test matches.

In 2011, she became the first female Test player to reach her 100th birthday and, in the same year, was awarded Honorary Life Membership by MCC.

Speaking to this newspaper on her 105th birthday, Eileen said: ''I don't feel any different from the 90s. I put it down to yoga, you get out and you do these exercises and they are good for you.

'They keep my muscles going.

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'I eat reasonably well and sensibly, and I always have an apple a day.'

Mrs Ash's life could fill several biographies.

A talented sportsman, she began playing cricket for a women's team through her employers at the Civil Service.

She went on to play for Middlesex before making her debut for the England Ladies team at the Oval in 1937.

Her finest performance came during a tour of Australia in 1948. Playing at Ballarat, in Victoria, the talented bowler took five wickets for just 10 runs, before smashing a century with the bat.

Other former England women's players to have rung the five-minute bell at Lord's include Clare Connor, Charlotte Edwards and Claire Taylor.

The ringing of the five-minute bell by an international cricketer, administrator or well-known enthusiast of the sport was introduced in 2007 and has since become a much-anticipated tradition.

The bell, which is located outside the Bowlers' Bar in the annexe to the Pavilion at Lord's, is rung to signify the imminent start of play, and it has come to be considered a great honour to be invited to ring it on the morning of a major match.

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