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Dive, Mary Clouston (Mollie) (1913–1997)

by R. I. Cashman

This article was published online in 2021

Mollie Dive, during tour of England, 1951

Mollie Dive, during tour of England, 1951

Stanton Library, NSW, 100214

Mary Clouston Dive (1913–1997), scientific officer and cricket and hockey player and administrator, was born on 26 June 1913 at Five Dock, Sydney, second of four children of locally born parents Percy William Dive, accountant, and his wife Mary, née Clouston. Percy was a good cricketer, a leg-spinner who in the 1924–25 season played one game for New South Wales. The family moved to Roseville when Mollie was seven. She was educated at Five Dock Public School (1919–20), Roseville College (1921–27), and Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC), Pymble (1928–31), representing the college in hockey, netball, and tennis. Co-head prefect at PLC in 1931, she would later become a member of the college council (1950–1978).

Attending the University of Sydney (BSc, 1936) from 1932 to 1935, Dive majored in botany and mathematics, and represented the university in cricket, hockey, netball, and tennis. After graduating, she became a technical librarian with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (1936–41). She then worked as a scientific officer at the National Standards Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (later Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization), until retiring in 1973.

Dive had been recruited to the University of Sydney women’s cricket club in 1932, when the team was short of players. Although she had played only backyard cricket beforehand, she scored 107 not out in her first club game. She was a member of the club until 1952, achieving a Blue in cricket in 1933. Selected for New South Wales in 1933, she became captain in 1938. She scored five half-centuries in fifteen matches, with a top score of 69 and an average of 23.20 in a career that lasted until 1951. In spite of her slim build and medium stature, she was a ‘powerful hitter’ (Clemenger 1948, 22). A right-hand bat, she loved to hit fours and sixes and score runs rapidly. In grade cricket she scored a number of rapid-fire big hundreds: 184 against Balmain in 1940, 151 against Ku-ring-gai in 1941, and 190 against Wrens in 1955. She was also an occasional leg-spin bowler.

In 1948 Dive was selected to captain Australia in her first Test, played against New Zealand at Wellington and won by Australia. She made centuries against Auckland and Otago, ending with a tour average of 78.7. In 1949 she was the first Australian female captain to win an Ashes series, and in 1951 a drawn series made her the first to retain the Ashes in England. As captain of her country and State, she was ‘clever at field placing, and was always ready to offer a sporting declaration’ (Rheinberg 1976, 145). When a match against England in Brisbane in December 1948 was petering out to a draw, she declared her team’s innings closed, leaving England to score sixty-five runs in twenty-three minutes for victory, the visitors only falling short by two runs. She was also an unselfish captain who declared at 2–155 in a match against South Australia in 1939, even though she was 89 not out.

Women’s cricket made a number of advances during Dive’s time. The Australian women were permitted to use the dressing rooms normally used by the men for the Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1949. Another first occurred when the Australian women’s team practised at Lord’s in 1951. Dive was concerned with the image of women’s cricket in the media. When an English reporter referred to the game as ‘ladies’ cricket,’ she chided him, ‘Women’s cricket please — we don’t talk of ladies in this game!’ (Mansfield 1997, 15).

As a hockey player at the University of Sydney from 1932 to 1936, where she won a Blue in the sport in 1933, Dive was a member of the Gumnuts club in 1937 and the Graduates club of the university from 1938. She retained a connection with the latter on the formation of the North Shore Women’s Hockey Association. In 1933, and between 1946 and 1948, she represented New South Wales. She also played squash, lawn bowls, and golf.

Following her playing days, Dive contributed much to sports administration. She held various roles at the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association for over five decades, being its president from 1964 to 1973. President of the New South Wales Women’s Cricket Association from 1952 to 1965, she was also a member of the executive of the Australian Women’s Cricket Council, a State and Australian selector, and a manager and coach. She became a hockey umpire, earning an All-Australia badge for umpiring in 1949, and was convenor of the New South Wales Umpires’ Committee between 1947 and 1970. A State and Australian selector, she also managed various State teams between 1952 and 1961, including a New South Wales team to Canada, California, and Fiji in 1972. She provided the technical details for a book by Lena Hodges entitled A History of the New South Wales Women’s Hockey Association 1908–1983 (1984).

‘Quiet-spoken and friendly’ (Mansfield 1997, 15), with a good sense of humour, Dive was a determined, no-nonsense, and competitive woman, whether on the field or playing I spy with children. She never married. In 1987 she was awarded an OAM. Inducted into the New South Wales Hall of Champions in 1995 and the Cricket New South Wales Hall of Fame in 2015, she had previously become the first female cricketer to have a stand named after her at a major New South Wales sporting oval—the Mollie Dive Stand at North Sydney Oval, which was opened on 15 February 1987. Having suffered reduced mobility in her latter years, she died on 10 September 1997 at Roseville, and was cremated. A playing field at PLC and the Mollie Dive Shield were named after her.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Cashman, Richard. ‘Mollie Dive: A Great All-Rounder.’ Yorker, no. 63 (Spring 2017): 12–15
  • Cashman, Richard, and Amanda Weaver. Wicket Women: Cricket and Women in Australia. Kensington, NSW: New South Wales University Press, 1991
  • Clemenger, Marie. ‘Molly Can Hit, Say the Men.’ Sun (Sydney), 1 December 1948, 22
  • Flack, Kylie. ‘Mollie Dive and the Other Side of Cricket.’ SportsU, June/July 1992, 26–28
  • Flint, Rachael Heyhoe, and Netta Rheinberg. Fair Play: The Story of Women’s Cricket. London: Angus & Robertson, 1976
  • Lilienthal, Sonja. Newtown Tarts: A History of the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association 1910–1995. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1997
  • Malcher, Helen, ed. Women of Ku-ring-gai: A Tribute. Gordon, NSW: Ku-ring-gai Historical Society Inc., 1999
  • Mansfield, Martin. ‘An Ambassador for Women in Sport.’ Australian, 6 October 1997, 15
  • Rheinberg, Netta. ‘Names in the Game.’ In Fair Play: The Story of Women’s Cricket, edited by Rachael Heyhoe Flint and Netta Rheinberg, 125–48. London: Angus & Robertson, 1976
  • Weaver, Amanda. ‘Dive, Mary Clouston.’ In The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, edited by Richard Cashman, Warwick Franks, Jim Maxwell, Brian Stoddart, Amanda Weaver, and Ray Webster, 146. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1996

Additional Resources

Citation details

R. I. Cashman, 'Dive, Mary Clouston (Mollie) (1913–1997)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dive-mary-clouston-mollie-27414/text34847, published online 2021, accessed online 1 October 2022.

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