Snowtown's Joan Martin our very own lady 'Bush Bradman'

Mid North native Joan Martin was a record breaker and a run maker.

Her short career in state colours gave us just a little indication of her true capacities.

Born at Snowtown in 1912, she began playing cricket alongside her brothers.

At 18, Martin represented “Bachelor Girls” during the first season of SAWCA competition in 1930-31.

She played two seasons for the Myer Emporium team before forming a new club, the Waratahs, with Hilda Randall and Vi Dutton in 1933-34.

Martin moved to the YWCA Blue team in 1936-37 and played the final three seasons of her career with that club, before retiring shortly after her marriage at the age of 26, following the 1938-39 campaign.

At 5’3” (160cm) and weighing 12st 5lb (79 kg), Joan was a powerful batter.

The early years of Joan Martin’s club career are largely unrecorded.

When match reports began appearing in the summer of 1935-36, she scored four of the five centuries scored in that season’s contests.

Her innings of 165 not out for Waratah against Gaza is described as an Australian record innings.

In the following season, Martin compiled 701 runs and was dismissed on only four occasions, averaging a “Bradmanesque” 175.25.

Her undefeated innings of 150 and 118 were the only centuries scored in the competition, thatseason.

Martin’s scoring was even more prolific in the 1937-38 summer.

Amongst 941 runs at 188.20, were a pair of double centuries.

An innings of 210 not out for YWCA Blues against Gaza retained her Australian record, eclipsing an innings of 204* by Victorian Dot Haggis.

Less than a month later Martin produced a second double ton, a superb innings of 202 against YWCA Reds.

In her final season of 1938-39, she played her highest innings of 246 not out, carrying her bat through a total of 354 for YWCA Blue against the hapless Reds.

This was again proclaimed to be an Australian record, though research has shown by then Phyllis Williams had scored 255 in a match at Broken Hill.

In interstate cricket, Martin played in only three seasons but top-scored for the struggling South Australian team in over half her trips to the batting crease.

Her highest was 75 against Queensland in 1937-38, but a standout was probably an innings of 39 not out of South Australia’s modest total of 70 against an Australian XI at Unley a year earlier.

Joan Martin was a tough character.

After England had created havoc in the Adelaide Test of the bodyline tour in 1932-33, she advised the press that her Waratahs team had a couple of good fast bowlers and would bowl leg-theory in its next match.

The SAWCA president stepped in and promptly declared that there would be no leg-theory bowling while she was in charge.

Martin was quite clearly the best batter in South Australia when the 1937 Australian team was selected.

This begs the question, why wasn’t she chosen?

Perhaps she baulked at the task of having to raise 120 pounds for the trip.

If the rest of her career was any indication, one suspects Martin would have made an impression if she was part of that 1937 national team.

– with Geoff Sando, SA Country Cricket historian.