The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) made history last year when they inducted a record number of 134 female members in the calendar year.
As of now, MCC has a total of 645 women members, which include 217 Full Members and 69 Honorary Life Members. Another type of membership at MCC is the title of associate member, where there are 359 women. Women’s participation in MCC has witnessed this colossal rise since women were allowed to become members through a vote in 1998.
Let’s look back at some of the female cricketers who were given honorary membership, owing to their outstanding service to the game.
The first women to be elected as MCC members were all honorary life members and were inducted in 1999. This included legends of English women’s cricket, such as E. Baker, J.M. Court, C.A. Cornthwaite, S.D. Hill, N.J. Izard, A.M. Jones, and the first captain of English women’s cricket team, Rachael Heyhoe Flint.
Flint had a massive role in the women’s game, not only as a player but also in its’ survival and growth. She was one of the pioneers of the first Women’s World Cup, which was then organized by the International Women’s Cricket Association. This was 2 years before the first men’s World Cup in 19775. In what truly exemplifies her contribution to the women’s game, Rachael Flint was the first woman granted admission to MCC. Few more English cricketers such as Flint’s teammate at the 1973 World Cup, Enid Blackwell, and M.C. Robinson were included as honorary members in 2000.
Till 2017, the English had 10 more women cricketer inducted in the list since 2000. This includes former English captains, Clare Connor and Charlotte Edwards. Eileen Whelan Ash was an inductee in 2011 and is the old living international cricketer at 108 years of age. Others include S. Lawrence, D. Thomas, Claire Taylor, and A. Brindle.
2001 saw MCC go global when they had women cricketers from the Trans-Tasman zone down under. This included Debbie Hockley from New Zealand – the first woman to play 100 ODIs, and Australians, S. Faram, and H.A. Mitchell. Till 2017, 3 more Australians were added to the list, including recent ICC Hall of Fame-er, Lisa Sthalekar, and Shelley Nitschke in 2013 and 2-time World Cup-winning captain, Belinda Clark, in 2016. The Kiwis saw one more inductee since then, in the form H.M. Tiffen, in 2015.
The first Indian women cricketer to be bestowed with the honorary membership was the batting legend, Anjum Chopra. Now a commentator, Chopra, has over 3600 international runs in 159 matches, with an average of 46 in ODI’s. In a record move back in 2017, MCC announced that they will honor 37 female cricketers from India, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. This milestone list included the first Indian captain, Diana Edulji, along with another former captain, Sandhya Aggarwal. Further inductees as honorary members were Gargi Banerji, Sashi Gupta, Shubhangi Kulkarni, Sudha Shah, and Shantha Rangaswamy. The only Irish cricketer to receive an honorary lifetime membership is Miriam Grealey – former captain, coach, and a legend of Ireland Cricket.
The remaining players in the list announced in 2017 had 10 players representing the Kiwis, 12 Australians, and 7 players from the United Kingdom.
Talking about influential women off the field included as honorary members, MCC has inducted Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth, Dutchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, and former British PM, Theresa May.