Updated: Jun 8
What is it?
Australia's champion women's cricket team stands on the shoulders of some of the most talented, bold, and daring women of preceding generations.
And pivotal to that modern success is the first Australia and England women's test series held here in the aftermath of the brutal 'Bodyline' Ashes series in 1932/33. It was a moment in time when the crowds turned up in their thousands to watch the women's Tests, the newspapers devoted column inches to the contests, and our women's cricketers looked set for a cherished place in the national sporting land.
This podcast series is about history, sport, Australia, and England, newspapers and journalists, triumph and loss, tradition and innovation. It's about the greatest rivalry in cricket, but more importantly, it's about the spirit and perseverance of dozens of women to make their own cricket history.
It was the long, hot days at the end of 1934, and the bright start of 1935. It was, for Australia's women's cricketers, the maiden summer.
What was the job?
Written and produced by journalist, academic and author Nick Richardson, The Maiden Summer tells the story of some of Australia's most overlooked sporting heroes, and details Australia's women's cricket history from the game's controversial start in Australia through to its most recent World Cup successes. Merging lots of archival audio with re-enacted correspondence and newspaper articles, the job for me was to bring it to life as best I could.
How did we put it together?
Before I got my hands on any of the material, Nick interviewed whole host of guests, and managed to secure the right to use a number of audio recordings from the period, and some extremely exciting in-depth archival interviews conducted by the National Film and Sound Archives with the players from the '34 test series themselves.
I amongst others was charged with reading and re-enacting some of the news articles and correspondence we needed to tell the story. Those voiceovers were recorded and OK'd before we added them to our collection of raw material.
Nick sent all the raw material to me along with his recorded voiceover and the script, and I began the process of getting the oral history recordings more usable for a narrative podcast- lots of editing required and lots of noise reduction! The archival broadcasts also required a bit of noise reduction to bring them in-line with modern-day expectations.
These were edited in accordance with the modern interviews and the voiceover to form the main narrative of each episode.
Sound design elements get added to build out the environment of each scene: whether it's on a boat sailing from Australia to England, in the middle of a press scrum, or the many, many cricket matches, atmosphere and sound effects are sourced and added. Cricket as a sport is quite distinctive-sounding (and women's cricket even more so- most sound effects of bowling or batting include a grunt or effort noise from the player, most of whom are male), so sourcing sound effects was a challenge (the BBC came through in the end, though!). These were added and mixed so as to build the 'world'.
Nick wrote the show notes for each episode, and I uploaded them for release through Jet Streamer's podcast hosting account.
The finished product:
After sourcing sound effects, quite a few painstaking hours mixing, applying reverbs, and lots and lots of tweaking, it was finally time to release The Maiden Summer to the world. This was a great project to work on, and I cannot wait for another opportunity to tell another story like it- especially as it was my first foray into narrative podcasts for a while. If you haven't had a listen already (or if you've just got a hankering for those long summer days in the sunshine), then make sure you do, it'll change what you thought you knew about Australia.
If you like the podcast, please take a moment to rate it and leave a review.
Nick has more information about the podcast on his website.