There was a time, still within living memory, when the Pavilion at Lord’s had very much the atmosphere of an exclusive gentlemen’s club.
There were no women Members of MCC and on match days even female staff members were expected to avoid popular areas like the Long Room. There was one notable exception - Her Majesty the Queen was admitted to the Long Room on her way out to meet the teams, and to enjoy the hospitality of the Committee Room.
This state of affairs was very much unchanged when Rachael Heyhoe Flint led her England team out of the dressing room at Lord’s for the first time on 4 August 1976. So much so, that when the England captain reached the bottom of the stairs, it struck her that no one had formally told her whether her team was permitted to pass through the Long Room on the way out to the pitch. Not wishing to cause a scandal, she led her team out through the door beside the Committee Room, from where they edged along the back of the Pavilion concourse to the great surprise of the seated Members expecting to see the team emerge from the other direction.
The Women’s Cricket Association had been trying for years to stage a match at Lord’s, without ever getting beyond permission to use the practice facilities. When the great day came, it coincided with the WCA’s silver jubilee. At the head of her team, Flint, who had already done so much to market the women’s game, became the first woman cricketer to set foot on the main Ground at Lord’s that day. She was one of the last to leave the field too, ending with 17 not out as England sealed an eight-wicket victory before a crowd of 8,000 spectators.