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Sainsbury, Erica Jane (1959–2021)

by Kersi Meher-Homji

A versatile personality, Dr Erica Jane Sainsbury excelled in multiple fields; cricket, pharmacy, education, church and academic activities.

We had first met at the University of Sydney, where I did virus research at the School of Public Health and she was a senior lecturer in pharmacy in the 1980s and ’90s. Our friendship grew closer when we realised that we both enjoyed cricket. But whereas I was only a passionate cricket lover she had played ten matches for NSW as a wicket-keeper in late 1970s, vice-captaining the team five times.

She began playing cricket with the Mirrabooka first-grade side in 1970s, hitting a record first-grade innings of 159 not out, adding 281 runs for the unbroken opening wicket. In 10 first-class matches for NSW she took six catches and stumped seven. A serious shoulder injury ended her first-class career.

Her contribution to cricket continued even after she retired. She became Australian women’s team scorer and statistician between 1987 and 2003. She toured England and Ireland in 1987 and was the scorer when Denise Annetts amassed 193 runs (a world record then) and added the highest Test partnership of 309 with Lindsay Reeler.

Sainsbury was the official statistician for Australian women’s cricket as she compiled a comprehensive set of cricket records. According to The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, “She became an automatic point of reference for the print and electronic media seeking information on women’s cricket.” She was a NSW selector from 1988 to 1995 and a member of International Women’s Cricket Council Match Rules and Drug Committees.

Since 2004 she was a cricket ground announcer for Cricket NSW and since 2006 for Cricket Australia. She wrote an earlier version of the Australian women’s team song and will always be recognised in NSW Breakers’ folklore for writing their singalong.

She was a Life Member of Gordon District Cricket Club Women’s Division and in 1997 won the Service Award for the NSW Women’s Cricket Association.

Sainsbury also worked in Moore Theological College, serving on the academic board and the scholarships committee of the college. The principal, Dr Mark Thompson, remarked, “Her contribution in the Academic Board and as an adviser on curriculum review and other academic matters has been invaluable ... This [her death] is a very sad loss for the college as well as her church, family and friends.”

In 1997, Sainsbury joined the Company of Cricket Scribes, inaugurated by Stephen Gibbs and Alfred James in Sydney in 1992, and brought fresh ideas in discussion with invited guests John Benaud, Tony Cozier, Kerry O’Keeffe, Harsha Bhogle, Jim Maxwell, Darrel Hair and David Frith, among others.

Her research interests in pharmacy involved using sociocultural theory as a framework for explaining the ways in which individuals change as they learn, particularly in the context of university education. Her PhD thesis in Pharmacy explored the processes and outcomes of learning of first year Pharmacy students and she developed a model of learning centred on active participation and development of discourse skills.

Sainsbury was also interested in understanding how an appreciation of the ways in which adults learn can be harnessed to promote enhanced patient care by pharmacists in collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

On her death, emeritus faculty member and Academic Dean Dr Colin Bale said, “The sport was a passion for her. She was an accredited umpire and latterly worked as a ground announcer… She was a person who loved the Lord Jesus and her hope was in Him. I am thankful for this dear sister in Christ.”

Famous cricket historian Dr Richard Cashman added, “Erica provided comprehensive statistical information to The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket, providing figures for the biographies of women cricketers. She also provided stats to the book Wicket Women.

“She was very professional in all that she did and had a good sense of humour. I had no idea that she had such a close involvement with the Anglican Church but she never talked much about herself, being modest and self-effacing. A great loss to the cricket community.”

Those who knew Erica Sainsbury describe her as a wonderful, kind, intelligent and caring person. She not only enriched women’s cricket she also changed the lives of many with her career as an educator. As former Australian Test cricketer and current cricket commentator Mel Jones summed up, “In every way Erica was a really lovely woman.”

Erica is survived by her brother Michael, sister-in-law Anna and niece Nikki. Her parents, Kevin and Noela, pre-deceased her.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

Kersi Meher-Homji, 'Sainsbury, Erica Jane (1959–2021)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/sainsbury-erica-jane-32271/text39945, accessed 11 August 2022.

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