On August 4, the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) named a gate at the Lord’s cricket ground as the Heyhoe Flint gate. The day also marks the 45th anniversary of the first women’s One-Day International held at Lord’s, in which Rachel Heyhoe Flint captained England to victory against Australia Women in the year 1976.
She has been a pioneer of women’s cricket, who made her international debut in 1960, at just 21 years of age. She played a pivotal role in setting up the Women’s World Cup, and also led the side to a win in the inaugural competition in 1973. In her illustrious career, she featured in 22 Tests and 23 ODIs, and averaged a stellar 45.54 and 58.45 respectively. Her prolific performance led to her induction into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010.
After hanging up her boots from cricket, Heyhoe Flint strived for women’s inclusion among the members of MCC. With the support of Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie during his presidency of the Club, in September 1998 the Club accepted the first applications submitted by women. In 1999, she became one of the first female members to be elected, alongside nine other women who were elected to Honorary Life Membership of MCC. In 2004 further history was made when she became the first woman to join the MCC Committee.
Her son, Ben Heyhoe Flint said: “When the vote was passed to allow women to become Members in 1998, I ran with Mum, giddy with delight, from the Lord’s Tavern to the Grace Gate for a barrage of interviews. It feels like there’s a lovely symmetry that she is now remembered with a gate of her own. This is the honour of all possible honours: a means of access – for everyone to be able to enter the Home of Cricket – is a perfect memorial to match Mum’s beliefs as a champion of access and equality. I’m just wondering if I’ll need to bow when I next go through it!”
There is also a portrait of her in the Pavilion at Lord’s, above the entrance to the renowned Long Room, acknowledging the positive impact she had, not only on the women’s game, but on women’s rights to watch and enjoy cricket. The portrait was unveiled in 2010. Since her demise in January 2017, MCC continues to pay tribute to this legendary cricketer, an instance of which is MCC asking her son, Ben, to ring the second innings bell at Lord’s for the Women’s World Cup Final that was played between India and England in the summer of that year.
Guy Lavender, Chief Executive & Secretary, said: “We wanted to recognise not only Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s playing career, but also her enduring impact on the game. Women’s access to play and watch cricket at Lord’s, and to participate in the game more widely, has come a long way and in commissioning new gates featuring a permanent memorial at Lord’s we are recognising Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s crucial role in this progression.”
This article is the summary of the original article published on the Lord’s website
I am a former cricketer having represented Mumbai University at All India University level. I was a part of MCA probables for the U-19 and U-23 age group. I have been an avid cricket writer for the last five years. Currently I am pursuing my Ph.D from IIT Bombay.