13 Aug, Saturday

Vale Noelene Cliffe


Vale Noelene Cliffe

Praneel HiraFeatured

Obituary kindly written by Jim Allnatt

Noeline Cliffe (Cliffy to her friends) was fifteen years old when she started with the Mt Albert Juniors in 1941-42.

It was immediately obvious that Noeline was going to become an outstanding allrounder, indeed she scored her first half century the following season and also regularly featuring in newspaper reports as a leading wicket taker. Noeline actually played for Auckland B in 1942-43 while still a student at Seddon Tech. She remembers being “roped in” at Walker Park before a match against a South Auckland Xl.

In 1944-45, Rona McKenzie formed the Akarana Cricket Club and Noeline was recruited to join the side. This was to be a very good move because Akarana quickly became a strong side and Noeline’s cricket benefited from playing at senior level to the extent that she won selection to play for Auckland’s First Eleven in December.

Noeline had just turned 18 when she played her first of 51 official matches for the Auckland First Xl in December 1944 against Wellington in a Hallyburton Shield Challenge, celebrating the occasion with career best figures of 5/28. Twenty five seasons later Noeline signed off on her representative career with a fine innings of 38 against the touring English Women’s Xl. It was fitting that she took part in a partnership of 58 batting with her great mate Rona McKenzie. At the time Noeline was 43 years old.

As an all-rounder Noeline stood out throughout her playing career. Usually batting at number 8 she scored a total of 951 runs at an average of 16.39 and took seventeen wickets at 13.94 with her medium pace. Noeline was also recognized as an outstanding fielder taking 64 catches. Her club form was also always consistent. Her best season with the bat was 1968-69 she scored three centuries in a season aggregate of 428.

Noeline also was a loyal servant of the Auckland Women’s Cricket Association. She began as a delegate for Akarana and accepted positions of Assistant Secretary, Treasurer for three years followed by a long term as an Executive member. Noeline also acted as a delegate to the New Zealand Women’s Cricket Council in 1963-64. Her service to cricket was recognized with a deserved award of Life Membership in 1965-66. She continued to be involved after receiving this recognition. Her playing knowledge was put to good use on the Auckland senior selection panel, completing a fifteen year stint in 1974. Noeline Cliffe’s name will live on as the Cliffe Cup has been awarded to the best fielder in the Senior Women’s grade for well over fifty years. It was donated in her name by her father Roland who was an ex AWCA Vice President.

At 94 years old, Noeline Cliffe was the oldest Auckland Representative cricketer alive male or female. She was part of a group of dedicated women cricketers who worked tirelessly to turn the AWCA into an organization that was able to amalgamate smoothly with ACA. During nearly seventy years that AWCA had been in existence, it had overcome a number of difficult hurdles. Shortage of funds, a disinterested news media, the cost of travel to travel to tournaments was difficult and the perennial problem with ground availability. Without the sterling efforts of these pioneering women, modern day women’s cricket might not be in the good space it is.