Eileen May Ash (née Whelan; 30 October 1911 – 3 December 2021) was an English cricketer and supercentenarian who played primarily as a right-arm medium bowler.

Eileen Ash
Eileen Ash.jpg
Personal information
Full name
Eileen May Ash (née Whelan)
Born(1911-10-30)30 October 1911
Highbury, Middlesex, England
Died3 December 2021(2021-12-03) (aged 110)
Norwich, Norfolk, England
BowlingRight-arm medium
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 18)12 June 1937 v Australia
Last Test29 March 1949 v New Zealand
Domestic team information
Career statistics
Competition WTest WFC
Matches 7 22
Runs scored 38 180
Batting average 4.75 11.25
100s/50s 0/0 0/0
Top score 10 34*
Balls bowled 594 2,074
Wickets 10 32
Bowling average 23.00 20.50
5 wickets in innings 0 0
10 wickets in match 0 0
Best bowling 3/35 4/41
Catches/stumpings 3/– 13/–
Source: CricketArchive, 26 January 2022

As Eileen Whelan, she appeared in seven Test matches for England between 1937 and 1948/49.[1][2] Ash was the longest-lived international cricketer, living to the age of 110 years and 34 days.[3][4][5]

Early life and educationEdit

Eileen May Whelan was born in Highbury, Middlesex.[1] She attended Ursuline Convent in Ilford, east London, where she captained the First XI hockey team, and also played tennis and netball.[6]

Cricket careerEdit

Ash played club cricket for the Ilford Wanderers and Wagtails teams, and top level domestic cricket for Civil Service, Middlesex, and South of England.[1][2][6] She also played Test cricket both before and after World War II, making her debut against Australia at Northampton in June 1937,[7] and playing her last Test against New Zealand in Auckland in March 1949.[8] A specialist bowler, she took ten Test wickets at an average of 23.00.[1][2]

Ash's best career performance came against a Victoria Country XI in a tour match in 1949 with an all-round display scoring an unbeaten century and taking five wickets in the match which also propelled England to a comfortable 170 run win.[9] Also in 1949, she met Australian cricketer Don Bradman at a French restaurant in Sydney, and received a bat signed by him.[10]

Working life and retirementEdit

Ash was employed by the Civil Service from the age of 18. She was seconded to MI6 during World War II, and went on to work with that organisation for eleven years.[11] Ash and her husband eventually retired to Norwich.[12] She took up golf in later life, only quitting at the age of 98.[13]


In 2011, Ash became the first female test cricketer to live to 100 years old. She was made an honorary life member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) to mark the occasion.[13] Writing for the BBC in February 2017, Heather Knight, England's captain, commented:

I had the absolute privilege of meeting Eileen Ash, the oldest living Test cricketer (male or female) for some filming before I left for Australia, and she is easily one of the most extraordinary ladies I've ever met. She's 105, does yoga every week and I've met teenagers who have a lot less energy than she does! It was amazing to hear some of her experiences of playing cricket for England, especially the boat trips they used to have to take to play in Australia, and she also took me through her yoga routine. My pride, and a number of my muscle groups, are still in tatters after being put to shame by a 105-year-old.[14]

In July 2017, aged 105, Ash rang the bell at Lord's to signal the start of play at the 2017 Women's World Cup Final, which England won.[15] She rang the bell for five minutes at Lord's in order to commemorate the 80th anniversary of her international debut.[16] To mark her 106th birthday, she was taken for a flight in a Tiger Moth.[16] In November 2018, she opened a sports hall named in her honour at The Hewett Academy in Norwich.[17] In 2019, the MCC unveiled a portrait of her at Lord's.[18]

In January 2021, at the age of 109, she became one of the oldest people in the UK to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.[19] Ash celebrated her 110th birthday on 30 October 2021 at the Norwich care home in which she resided.[20] She died just under five weeks later, on 3 December 2021.[21][22][23][24]


  1. ^ a b c d "Player Profile: Eileen Whelan". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Player Profile: Eileen Whelan". CricketArchive. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  3. ^ "World's oldest international cricketer Eileen Ash turns 110". BBC News. November 2021. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  4. ^ "104-year-old woman keeps fit with yoga". BBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Eileen Ash, 1911-2021". England and Wales Cricket Board. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Going to Australia: Eileen Whelan". Women's Cricket. 13 (10): 153. 18 September 1948. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  7. ^ "Did Everton Weekes once miss the start of a Test in which he was playing?". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  8. ^ "World's oldest living Test cricketer turns 110 today". The South African. 30 October 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  9. ^ "Obituary: Eileen Ash". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Eileen Ash, oldest Test cricketer, passes away at 110". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Eileen Ash, oldest living Test cricketer, dies aged 110". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Norfolk's oldest woman dies, aged 110". Norwich Evening News. 4 December 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  13. ^ a b Eileen and the gift of life, Let's Talk, 14 September 2013.
  14. ^ Knight, Heather (5 February 2017). "Heather Knight column: Women's Big Bash League, Taylor Swift and the oldest living Test cricketer". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  15. ^ Eileen Ash to ring the bell at Lord’s, International Cricket Council, 22 July 2017.
  16. ^ a b Simon Briggs, "The oldest Test player cruises on past her century", Daily Telegraph, 4 November 2017, Sports Section page 24.
  17. ^ "Enrichment & Cultural Capital". Hewett Academy. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  18. ^ "Eileen Ash, 107, honoured with portrait at Lord's". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  19. ^ Former spy, 109, may be oldest recipient of Covid-19 vaccine
  20. ^ Skyring, Sophie (30 October 2021). "Red wine, yoga and smiling - Eileen's secrets for reaching incredible age of 110". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  21. ^ "World's oldest Test cricketer Ash dies". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Eileen Ash obituary". The Times. 4 December 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Eileen Ash, oldest Test cricketer, passes away at 110". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  24. ^ "Births, marriages and deaths: December 11, 2021". The Times. 11 December 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit