Statue of Australian cricket icon Belinda Clarke unveiled at SCG as Dominic Perrottet makes gaffe
History was made at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday, as Aussie icon Belinda Clark became the first female player to be immortalised in a statue anywhere in the world.
The 52-year-old batter is widely recognised as one of, if not the, greatest female players of all time, after a storied career that included 134 matches for Australia and captaining the country to two World Cup titles.
The pioneer’s bronze statue was unveiled prior to day two of the Australia v South Africa Test; joining Steve Waugh, Stan McCabe, Fred Spofforth and Richie Benaud as part of the Basil Sellers SCG Sports Sculptures trail.
Aussie cricket icon Belinda Clark poses with her bronze statue, which sits next to the Members stand at the SCG
Clark is the first female cricketer to be immortalised with a statue anywhere in the world, and continues to leave a huge legacy in the game through various roles
Former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce (left), a long-time supporter and ex-president of women’s cricket in Australia, was on hand to unveil the statue of Clark (right) alongside NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Australia’s first female governor-general, Dame Quentin Bryce, were on hand to unveil the work of art.
‘Who would have thought that a small, sports-mad girl from Newcastle, primarily a tennis player, who thought her cricket skills would constantly trapped in the backyard or school nets, would one day not only have a chance to play on that iconic ground (SCG), but be recognised with a statue in it,’ Clark told media and the burgeoning crowd in the shadows of the famous Members Stand.
Dame Bryce, whose passion for cricket exceeded almost anyone else who has held the prestigious position, is a long-time friend of Clark and spoke with strong emotion about the impact she has had on Aussie cricket.
Dame Quentin Bryce (right), Belinda Clark (centre) and Clark’s partner Sally Bailey (left) at Thursday’s unveiling at the SCG
The former governor-general from 2008-2014 could often be seen sitting in the stand at Kingston Oval in Canberra for hours, simply watching the Aussie players do some nets practice; and took in every game she could alongside her late husband, Michael, who shared her passion.
‘I congratulate you (Clark) on your vision, wisdom and initiative that this splendid accolade signifies in bronze sculpture; which captures her incredible talent, mental toughness, graceful technique and fierce determination,’ Dame Bryce said at the ceremony.
Dame Bryce told Daily Mail Australia that if it wasn’t for Clark, current superstars like Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy would not be able to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars per year and play in front of almost 90,000 people at the MCG.
Current superstar Alyssa Healy took a selfie at the event with some of the biggest icons in the women’s game, who all continue to hold prominent roles, including commentary and coaching: (L-R) Alex Blackwell, WACA CEO and Clark’s former vice-captain Christina Matthews, Lisa Sthalekar, Julia Price, Belinda Clark, Mel Jones and the recently-retired Rachael Haynes
‘When we (Clark and Bryce) started working on the amalgamation (between Women’s Cricket Australia with the previous Cricket Australia equivalent) they were earning nothing, and paid for everything themselves,’ she said.
‘They had to go begging for money … and now here we are. It has led all the other sports, and women’s cricket is miles ahead.
‘You can’t take progress for granted with women. It’s celebrating progress but you also have to be vigilant about reform for women, because it can go backwards.
‘There’s been a lot of examples in Australia where they’ve just ticked a box without actually implementing anything, which is why this is so important today.’
Dominic Perrottet (right) incredibly forgot the name of Australia’s first female Governor-General, Quentin Bryce (left), who he was sitting alongside for the entire presentation
This was no more apparent than when Perrottet unbelievably forgot Dame Bryce’s name.
The Premier, who was supposed to introduce her, stumbled embarrassingly.
‘And can I say that there be no better person to unveil this statue today than Australia’s first ever female governor-general Dame (Marie) Bashir … sorry, I’ve had a mind blank,’ Perrottet stumbled, as he shuffled his papers.
‘Sorry, I had Marie Bashir for many years as Premier … Quentin Bryce, sorry.’
Belinda Clark was one of the most technically-proficient drivers of a cricket ball that either gender has produced in the game
Even more bizarrely, in his attempt to save face, Marie Bashir was certainly not Governor of NSW since Perrottet has been premier.
Dame Bashir held the office of Governor from 2001-2014, while Perrottet replaced Gladys Berejiklian in 2021.
Belinda Clark leads a lap of honour for the victorious Australian side after winning the 1997 World Cup in front of more than 88,000 people in Culcutta, India
The magnificent statue, which sits in a high-traffic and very visible area just after the entrance to the Members Stand, shows incredible attention to detail and craftmanship – right down to the last spike.
Clark took great pleasure in pointing out a hidden detail that showed that was the case.
‘I would like to pay tribute to the clever artist Cathy Wiseman. We’ve met on a number of occasions to see the progress and talk about the statue, and I was awestruck by her creative genius and attention to detail,’ she said.
‘Cathy said to me one day, ‘I’m just been over to the factory. The foundry has got it all in bronze and I’m just going over checking all the details, and I noticed they’d left one of your spikes off the bottom of your shoe’.
‘So when you have a look, please just make note of that, because Cathy put a lot of effort to make sure that spike was there!’ Clark, who was wearing a stunning pair of shiny shoes herself, laughed.
Belinda Clark’s sparkling silver shoes made quite the statement – but so did the fact her sculptor did not miss even the smallest of details: one spike on her footwear
Clark certainly wasn’t paid the big bucks, and spent the majority of her career funding it herself, as did her teammates.
That’s despite being the first player – male or female – to score an ODI double century, averaging 47 over 118 50-over games for Australia and playing 125 matches for NSW and Victoria, netting seven domestic championships.
All while holding down full-time employment and heading up the Women’s Cricket Australia board which governed the female game until amalgamating with the Australian Cricket Board (now Cricket Australia).
But once she couldn’t play any longer, she certainly wasn’t lost to the game. She headed up the Australian Cricket Academy for many years, and held a number of executive roles at Cricket Australia, most significantly as head of Community Cricket; growing the game at the grassroots level.
Belinda Clark acknowledges the crowd after scoring a 50 during the 2005 Women’s World Cup in South Africa
It’s why her legacy is so much more than ‘just’ one of the female game’s greatest ever players.
‘Our lives as players were punctuated by cricket tours,’ she said at the unveiling.
‘Every single person arranged their lives around these opportunities, and as each playing career came to an end, many found a way to continue to contribute to the sport.
‘And it’s this last part that makes me most proud, and I feel fortunate to have been able to be their captain,’ said Clark.
Her struggles to reverse the status quo of males being the only ones dominating cricket fans’ hearts and minds has paved the way for superstars like former NSW, Australia and Sydney Thunder captain, Alex Blackwell.
A large crowd gathered around the media contingent to see the unveiling of the historic statue
Former Aussie skipper Alex Blackwell (pictured alongside fellow cricket legends Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting) said Belinda Clark was her ‘absolute hero’ from a young age
Blackwell told Daily Mail Australia that there was no greater figure in the game, in her eyes.
‘Belinda is my hero. My absolute hero. She was my first Australian captain,’ she explained, while standing next to the statue of her idol.
‘I was in the NSW team the first year that she left (to go to Victoria), and then we won against Victoria in that first year and it was quite an inspiring feeling for me.
‘She was the first person I understood was an Australian female cricketer. She introduced me to the concept of an Australian team.
‘She sent me a poster when I was in year six following my successful state knock-out win for Griffith East Public School, when our girls team beat the boys team, and I just idolised her,’ said Blackwell, who was full of obvious emotion at the occasion.
The unveiling of Clark’s statue sat in stark contrast to another plan to recognise a trailblazing female cricketer in Perth.
Belinda Clark attends the 2020 Allan Border/Belinda Clark Medal night alongside partner Sally Bailey
Just months ago former Test batsmen Mike Veletta and Graeme Wood resigned from the West Australian Cricket Association (WACA) board after it announced plans to give WA cricket legend Zoe Goss – who bowled Brian Lara out in a 1994 game – a statue.
It’s also worth pointing out the CEO of the WACA is a long-time Clark deputy – wicketkeeper Christina Matthews – who turned the state’s cricket program from cellar dweller to BBL, WBBL, Sheffield Shield and ODI Cup champions.
We’ll leave it to Dame Bryce to explain why Belinda Clark should be just the first of many.
‘Everyone will love this sculpture, but most especially the thousands of little girls who come to look at it … and they will listen to the story of a little girl from Newcastle, who like them, loved sport, wanted to be a champion and never gave up.’
Belinda Clark’s glittering career
- 2 x Women’s World Cup champion
- 7 x Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) champion (five for NSW, two for Victoria)
- Officer of the Order of Australia
- ICC Hall of Game
- Australian Cricket Hall of Fame
- Sport Australia Hall of Fame
- 15 Tests: 919 runs @ 45.95 including two centuries and five fifties. Highest score of 136
- 118 ODIs: 4844 runs @ 47.49 including five centuries and 30 fifties. Highest score 229*
- 3 x WNCL Player of the Season
- 3 x WNCL Player of the Finals (used to be best of three)
- CEO Women’s Cricket Australia
- General manager of the Australian Cricket Academy (2005-2017)
- Executive general manager of Community Cricket at Cricket Australia
- Director of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2020
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/cricket/article-11600779/Statue-Australian-cricket-icon-Belinda-Clarke-unveiled-SCG-Dominic-Perrottet-makes-gaffe.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Statue of Australian cricket icon Belinda Clarke unveiled at SCG as Dominic Perrottet makes gaffe