Thousands of cricket fans will discover the hidden histories of women’s cricket played in Yorkshire in a new exhibition at the county’s Headingley home, thanks to four enterprising University of Huddersfield history students.

Cerys Auty, Laura Sharp, Millie Denton and Tilly Olphin unearthed a wealth of information about the progress of women’s cricket in Yorkshire stretching back to the 1700s, and the results were unveiled during a Northern Diamonds fixture.

Mentored and supported by Charlotte Hughes, Head of Heritage with the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), the fruits of the students’ research over a six-month period are on show in the Long Room in the East Stand at the famous cricket ground, and were given an official launch by Dr Jane Powell, President of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) and a former England captain.

The exhibition, entitled ‘Unlocking the histories of cricket: The Women’s Game’, will be on display for the entire season and with Headingley hosting international and domestic matches throughout the summer, the hard work of the student quartet will be seen by thousands of visitors to the legendary ground at a time when the profile of women’s cricket is on the rise.

“These girls have done a fantastic job of researching women’s cricket in Yorkshire,” said Dr Jane Powell. “It was wonderful how excited they became, because they didn’t realise what they were researching because it was hidden.

“Now it is out in the public, and not only that but it’s in the Long Room here at Headingley where all the members come in. I have often been asked whether Yorkshire have played women’s cricket for very long, so now I don’t have to answer that because everything they need is here.”

The project to develop the exhibition was developed by Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, YCCC’s charity and community arm, in partnership with the University through Professor Rob Ellis, of the History Department. It builds on his long track record of innovative public history outputs that have included co-produced collaborations involving student researchers.

“Cricket is not a sport dominated by women, so the project was very intriguing when Rob mentioned it to us. To get to give voices to women, who have often been ignored in cricket, was great and my grandma plays cricket so I love that too,” says Millie.

“Jane Powell was a massive help to us. She gave us a lot of material from her time as a player, there is not a lot of in existence, so much has been lost but Jane told us that there’s a need for other former players to donate.”

“We have found the majority of the primary material from the Yorkshire archive, but Jane Powell was a massive help to us. She gave us a lot of material from her time as a player, but generally a lot has been lost or just does not exist anymore, but Jane told us that there’s a need for other former players to donate,” adds Laura.

The women’s game thrived in parallel to the men’s but it remained very much hidden and marginalised, despite England’s women being the first national cricket side to win a World Cup in 1973. Progress in promoting the game was slow, with women only being allowed to enter the Long Room in the pavilion at Lord’s, the sport’s headquarters, in 1999.

“Hopefully the exhibition will open the door to better inclusivity, and to more projects as well,” says Tilly. “We found a lot of material and information about women’s cricket in India and Pakistan that we could not include that in this research as much as we would have liked to. Hopefully it will spark more people into more research that looks into the other amazing women that were able to play.”

Cerys is thrilled that so many more people will be finding out more about women’s cricket during the rest of the season.

“It is exciting, and a really big thing for us. To be able to come here and see it after spending the year by a computer, reading, researching and writing, and to know how many people are going to see it as a first piece of public history as a student is almost overwhelming.”

The success of the project means that the university and YCF are already planning future collaborations.