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The first recorded match of women's cricket was reported in The Reading Mercury on 26 July 1745, a match contested "between eleven maids of Bramley and eleven maids of Hambledon, all dressed in white." The first known women's cricket club was formed in 1887 in Yorkshire, named the White Heather Club. Three years later a team known as the Original English Lady Cricketers toured England, reportedly making substantial profits before their manager absconded with the money. In Australia, a women's cricket league was set up in 1894, while in South Africa, Port Elizabeth had a women's cricket team, the Pioneers Cricket Club. In Canada, Victoria also had a women's cricket team that played at Beacon Hill Park.
In 1958 the International Women's Cricket Council (IWCC) was formed to co-ordinate women's cricket around the world, taking over from the English Women's Cricket Association, which had been doing the same job in a de facto role since its creation 32 years earlier. In 2005, the IWCC was merged with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to form one unified body to help manage and develop cricket.
Women's cricket has been played internationally since the inaugural women's Test match between England women and Australia women in December 1934. The following year, New Zealand women joined them, and in 2007 Netherlands women became the tenth women's Test nation when they made their debut against South Africa women. Since 1973, women's One Day Internationals (ODIs) have also been contested, and these quickly became the focus of women's international cricket. In the years since the inception of women's ODIs more than eight times more of this format has been played than women's Test cricket. The Women's Cricket World Cup has been held nine times, with Australia, England and New Zealand sharing the titles. In 2004, a shorter format still was introduced, with the introduction of women's Twenty20 International. Initially, women's Twenty20 cricket was played little at international level, with only four matches played by the end of 2006. However, the following three years saw a rapid growth, with six matches been played in 2007, ten in 2008 and thirty in 2009, which also saw the first ICC Women's World Twenty20.
The ICC Women's Rankings were launched on 1 October 2015 covering all three formats of women's cricket. The ranking system gives equal weight to results of Test, ODI, and T20 matches. It was designed by statistician and ICC Cricket Committee member David Kendix and utilizes the same methodology as men's cricket rankings. Each team scores points based on the results of their matches over the last 3−4 years − all matches played in the 12-24 months since the first of October before last, plus all the matches played in the 24 months before that, for which the matches played and points earned both count half. On 1 October of every year, the matches and points earned between 3 and 4 years ago are removed, and the matches and points earned between 1 and 2 years ago switch from 100% weighting to 50% weighting. For example, on 1 October 2014, the matches played between October 2010 and October 2011 were removed, and the matches played between October 2012 and October 2013 switched to 50% weighting. This happens overnight, so can result in teams changing positions in the ranking table despite no one playing.
|ICC Women's Rankings|
|Reference: ICC Women's Rankings, ICC Women's Championship, 19 February 2018|
|"Matches" is the number of matches played in the 12-24 months since the October before last, plus half the number in the 24 months before that.|
The ICC provides ratings for the end of each month back to October 2015. The teams that have successively held the highest rating since that date, by whole month periods, are:
|Team||Start||End||Total months||Cumulative Months||Highest rating|
|Australia||1 October 2015||2 October 2017||24||24||134|
|England||3 October 2017||28 October 2017||1||1||128|
|Australia||29 October 2017||20 November 2017||1||25||129|
|England||21 November 2017||present||-||1||129|
|Reference: ICC Rankings|