The 1984 tour to England that the Signal twins were part of. Photo Courtesy:
The 1984 tour to England that the Signal twins were part of. Photo Courtesy: SportsPages memorabilia

Elizabeth and Rosemary Signal were born May 4, 1962. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the first twins to play Test cricket together.

No, the Waughs were not the first twins to play Tests together. Like many other feats, that one belongs to the fairer sex as well. The Signal twins, Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Ann and Rosemary ‘Rose’ Jill, had achieved that at Headingley in 1984, beating the Waughs to the mark by quite a few years.

Born at Feilding, Manawatu, Rose made her debut first in what is now classified as a Women’s Miscellaneous Match for Central Districts Women against Canterbury Women at Christchurch, scoring 94 not out in the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield match; Liz followed suit two days later with a ten against Auckland Women.

Both were competent all-rounders, though numbers suggest Rose was significantly better of the two. She bowled fast, while Liz was merely fast-medium. Both, however, played with distinction for the New Zealand Under-25s Women, and made it to the England tour of 1984.

The record

Rose and Liz both played in Women’s ODIs, but not together. While Rose played the first Women’s ODI at Hastings, Liz played the other two at Grace Road and Bristol. None of them, however, had much to write home about.

Both were competent all-rounders, though numbers suggest Rose was significantly better of the two. She bowled fast, while Liz was restricted to a fast-medium pace. Both, however, played with distinction for the New Zealand Under-25s Women, and made it to the England tour of 1984

As mentioned above, the Signals became the first twins to play Test cricket together. They made their debut against England Women at Headingley. Debbie Hockley decided to bat, and New Zealand Women reached 147 for 7 at stumps on Day One; Debbie declared overnight. While Rose had fallen for a duck, Liz did not get a chance to bat.

England Women responded emphatically. Janette Brittin’s 144 not out took them to 256 for 5 when Jan Southgate (later Allen) declared; the twins went wicket-less, though Liz managed two catches. New Zealand Women saved the match, finishing on 194 for 8 with Rose remaining unbeaten on 8 and Liz scoring a solitary run.

Rose never played another Test, but Liz was retained for the rest of the series. She scored an unbeaten 55 in the second Test at New Road and taking two quick wickets in the third at Canterbury.

The sisters played together again at Haarlem when the team had a stopover at Netherlands. In the process they became the first twins to play ODIs as well. The twins did not do much with the bat, but picked up a wicket apiece as Netherlands Women were defeated by 67 runs.

[Note: Though the Signals were the first twins to play Women's Tests together, Fernie (nee Blade) and Rene Shevill had played Women's Tests for Australia Women, that too in the same series. Fernie played the first Women's Test against England Women at Brisbane in 1934-35, while Rene played the second and MCG and the third at SCG. Incidentally, Essie Shevill, an elder sister, played all three Women's Tests, but the twins never played together. England Women won the first two Women's Tests and drew the third.]

Later days

The twins toured India that winter for a series of three Tests. Liz opened bowling in each innings and picked up three wickets in the first Test at Ahmedabad, but did little else of note throughout the drawn series. India Women came back from 1-2 to claim the Women’s ODI series 3-2. Once again the twins did not do much in the series.

Rose never played any recorded form of the sport again. She got married, and changed her name to Rosemary James. Liz played in the Shell Rose Bowl against Australia Women for three consecutive years, albeit without success of any kind. Liz hung up her boots after that as well.

Career Records  Women’s Tests Women’s ODIs
M R Ave W Ave C M R Ave W Ave C
Liz Signal 6 82 20.5 8 40.62 3 19 79 11.28 7 70.85 5
Rose Signal 1 8 8 0 5 6 12 6 2 44.5 2

Their numbers may not be the best, but the Signal twins hold a unique place in the annals of the sport.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)