Lynne Thomas: England's first World Cup centurion - from Llanelli

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England's first World Cup centurion - from Llanelli

Back in 1973 Lynne Thomas made 134 at Hove as England beat an International XI at the first Women's World Cup.

It wasn't until 30 years later that she realised its importance.

Thomas's ton that day wasn't just the first scored at a Women's World Cup - but the first at any cricket World Cup, as the inaugural men's event wasn't held until 1975.

"At the time I didn't realise the significance of the tournament," Thomas, 77, told BBC Wales Sport.

"To me it was just another cricket tournament and another cricket match.

"I didn't know until about 12 years ago when my niece read it in the Guinness Book of World Records!"

Cricket's first World Cup

The inaugural Women's World Cup was the result of the vision of the late Rachael Heyhoe Flint and the financial backing of businessman Sir Jack Hayward, who would later own Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Sir Jack Hayward and Rachael Heyhoe Flint
Sir Jack Hayward and Rachael Heyhoe Flint were pivotal in establishing the inaugural Women's World Cup

Eight teams took part and England would go on to win it.

"We had trials and the team was chosen. No specialist one day players and the crowds were nothing like they are today," recalls Thomas.

"We drove ourselves there and we all had jobs as well as playing. So once the final was over, I was back teaching on the Monday."

'Foreigner in the team'

Thomas had been inspired to start playing after seeing her father play for Dafen Cricket Club in their hometown of Llanelli.

Although instead of watching the games, Thomas would be in the nets with the cricket bat "that he bought me from Woolworths".

Lynne Thomas in 1971
Lynn Thomas represented England for 13 years

She went on to play 10 Tests and 24 ODIs for England over a 13-year international career, but was always proud to come from Wales.

"I remember (after the 1973 World Cup win) being introduced to Princess Anne," said Thomas.

"I always told (captain) Rachael Heyhoe Flint 'now don't forget - I'm not English'. So when Princess Anne shook hands with me she said 'ah, you're the foreigner in the team!'"

A 34-year record

Thomas and Enid Bakewell put on 246 back in June 1973 - an English opening partnership record that stood until Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins made 268 against South Africa in 2008.

Thomas was watching from the stands at Lord's that day and was invited down for a photo afterwards.

"It was strange because it was so different from when we made the record," she said.

"It wasn't even mentioned in the papers then - I don't think anyone knew."

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