Cricket, in its long history, has seen many pioneers, but few as determined or as successful as Rachael Heyhoe Flint.
As a player, her international career was longer than most, lasting from 1960 to 1982. She captained England for 10 years without losing a single Test Match. In 1973, together with Wolverhampton businessman Sir Jack Hayward, she organised the first ever women’s Cricket World Cup – two years before a similar tournament was held in men’s cricket – and captained England to the title. At Test level her finest hour was surely her vigil at the Oval in 1976 to save an apparently doomed match against Australia. She was only dismissed for 179 off the last ball of the match after eight hours and 41 minutes at the crease. One week later she led England’s women down the staircase from the home dressing room, past the Long Room and out to the middle as the first ever women’s match at Lord’s took place.
Long after her playing career was over she remained the public face of women’s cricket and in the 1990s, her application for MCC Membership was the catalyst for ending the Club’s male-only status. She was one of the first 10 women awarded Honorary Life Membership in 1999. Ever determined, optimistic, busy and approachable, Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s membership was never going to be a passive one. She quickly became a familiar face around the Ground and in 2004, just five years after becoming a Member, she became the first woman to join the MCC Committee, where she served with characteristic energy. In 2010, she was ennobled as Baroness Heyhoe Flint of Wolverhampton. The same year, MCC commissioned a portrait of her by James Lloyd, which now hangs in the Pavilion, above the entrance to the Long Room past which she led her team that famous day in 1976.