She doesn't know why Central Districts Cricket is closefisted about handing out life memberships but Viv Stephens is over the moon to have received one.

The 62-year-old from Hawke's Bay was made a life member at the annual meeting of Central Districts in New Plymouth last Sunday.

"They rang me up to ask me if I'd accept one so for me it was just awesome," said Stephens.

The former New Zealand international batswoman (1975-77), who stepped down as CD board member last December, said the award wasn't a signal to the end of her association but a recognition of what she had achieved as a player and, later in life, as an administrator with the major association.


"As one of the cricket life members it means you can join the crusty brigade but know you're not old enough," she said with a laugh.

The Taradale High School digital technology and PE teacher said it was the sort of thing people received for supporting their province and association in cricket.

"It's not something CD seem to throw out often enough. There are very few men if you look at the honour's board at McLean Park so they don't seem to hand them out very often and that makes it extra special."

A former CD Hinds women's captain (1979-82), Stephens joins only four other women from the CD catchment area to receive a life membership. They are Denise Craig (Wellington), who was CD Hinds coach, and administrators Pam Harvey (Wellington), Jan Davies (Taranaki) and Annette Maher (Whanganui).

As a founding member she, along with the other four women, helped establish CD Cricket.

A CD women's representative team was selected in the summer of 1978-79 after a game in Palmerston North to cater for the scattered region.

Men played under a separate identity. While they were helpful they didn't want women to compete under the same organisation, Stephens reportedly told HB Today last December.

It wasn't until the mid-1990s that the two genders came under one umbrella of CD established in 1950.

In 1994-95, ex-CEO Blair Furlong approached Stephens to become a board member and she accepted. It wasn't a shoo-in ceremony when the board came along in early 2000.

Foxton-born, Manawatu-educated Stephens moved to the Bay because of husband Phillip's work. Her brother, Graham Sexton, still operates the Himatangi coastal farm their father, Basil, established.

While attending Manawatu Teachers' College, she found there was no women's cricket so she played for the institution's second XI men's team.

A lecturer, the late John Bolt, suggested she travel to Wellington to play in the women's competition and the rest is history.

She played for the club in the capital on Saturdays and stayed back to compete for the Wellington rep team on Sundays.

Stephens, who was a board director, management committee member and chairman, stayed for 14 years.