Rachael Heyhoe Flint to be commemorated with new gates at Lord's

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Pioneering figure to receive permanent memorial, five years after her death in 2017

Rachael Heyhoe Flint will be commemorated at Lord’s by a newly named gate, after the MCC committee overcame criticism from a section of its membership to agree on a permanent memorial to one of cricket’s most pioneering figures.

The gates are set to be commissioned and unveiled in the summer of 2022, and will replace the current North Gate by Wellington Road, the most popular entrance to the ground given its proximity to St John’s Wood tube station, and a fitting tribute to a campaigner whose fight for equal access to the sport was the central tenet of her life.

The announcement of what will be the first such memorial to a female cricketer at Lord’s comes on the 45th anniversary of the first women’s international to be hosted at the ground, a one-day fixture between England, captained by Heyhoe Flint, and Australia on August 4, 1976.

Baroness Heyhoe Flint, who died in 2017 aged 77, played 22 Tests for England between 1960 and 1979, at a time when the women’s game received scant attention or funding. She went on to become a leading administrator for the women’s game, and in 2014 was integral in securing England’s women their first tranche of ECB central contracts. In 2020, the ECB women’s regional competition was named in her honour.

However, her most significant contribution to the sport came in 1973, when she devised and established the first Cricket World Cup – a women’s event that preceded the first men’s tournament by two years. She went on to lift the trophy herself after England beat Australia in the final, which was held at Edgbaston because women at that stage were still not permitted to play at Lord’s.

In 1998, Heyhoe Flint successfully lobbied for MCC to end its centuries-old exclusion of women from its membership, and the following year she became one of the first ten female members to be granted honorary life membership of the club. In 2010, she was commemorated by a portrait in the pavilion at Lord’s, which stood over the entrance to the Long Room as England’s women won the World Cup at the ground a few months after her death in 2017.

Guy Lavender, Chief Executive and Secretary of MCC, 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.”

Ben Heyhoe Flint, Rachael’s son, said: “When the vote was passed to allow women to become Members in 1998, I ran with Mum, giddy with delight, out of 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!”

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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