Heyhoe Flint, who died in 2017 at the age of 77, made her England debut in 1960 and captained the national side in a career spanning two decades. She was hugely instrumental in setting up the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1973, leading England to victory in the inaugural tournament. Her performances on the field led to her induction into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010.
Heyhoe Flint made further history in 1976 when she became the first women cricketer to set foot – in a playing capacity – on the Main Ground at Lord’s. She remained a dedicated advocate for women’s inclusion in the game once her playing career ended and was pivotal in the campaign to allow women to become Members of MCC in 1998.
The following year, Heyhoe Flint became one of the first female members of the club, alongside nine other women elected to Honorary Life Membership of MCC. In 2004, history was made again when she became the first woman to join the MCC Committee. A portrait of Heyhoe Flint, unveiled in 2010, is displayed in the Pavilion at Lord’s, above the entrance to the Long Room.
“Rachael Heyhoe Flint was not only one of the best female players to have played the game, but her pioneering drive to further the cause of women’s cricket for future generations has left a remarkable legacy and impact on our sport,” Clare Connor, MCC’s president, said.
“Rachael’s influence in making it possible for women to play and watch cricket at Lord’s, and participate in the game more widely, was unparalleled and her contribution in breaking down barriers for women in cricket will always be remembered. The opening of the Heyhoe Flint Gate is a fitting celebration of that drive and contribution during an historic summer of women’s sport.
“Here at MCC, we are thrilled to have a permanent commemoration celebrating Rachael’s impact on and off the pitch, as she joins WG Grace in becoming only the second cricketer to have a gate named after her at Lord’s.”
The former East Gate was replaced and renamed the Heyhoe Flint Gate at an official ceremony before the first day’s play, with Rachael’s son Ben joining Connor and Chief Executive & Secretary Guy Lavender in opening the gate. In accompaniment, a bas relief sculpture of Rachael Heyhoe Flint and plaque were also unveiled.
“The family are truly humbled by this incredible gesture from MCC, and from the sport,” Ben Heyhoe Flint said. “Mum gave her life to the game, so it’s wonderful that the game now chooses to honour her: her contributions then, and the legacy she still leaves behind. I hope many young cricketers – boys and girls alike – pass through here and feel inspired by this memorial to a lady who won through with a measured blend of attack and defence!”