The Bradman Foundation is saddened to learn of the death on 18 January of the founder of the Cricket World Cup, Baroness Heyhoe-Flint after a short illness aged 77.
Captain of the England women’s cricket team between 1966 and 1978 Heyhoe-Flint is widely and fondly remembered for tirelessly promoting the Women’s game. In 1973, two years before the inaugural male equivalent she led the organisation of the first cricket world cup which was played between six nations, including Australia, in England.
She personally secured the support of a good friend and lover of women’s cricket, Jack Hayward to finance the entire project and it was this initiative that put women’s game on the world map. The tournament was officially opened by Roger Bannister and the winner’s trophy was presented by H.R.H. Princess Anne. These connections with the event brought a high level of media coverage.
Rachael also played in the first ever women’s match at Lord’s, against Australia, in 1976 and in 2004 she became the first woman to serve on the committee of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and also the England and Wales Cricket Board
During her career she played 22 Test matches and 23 one-day internationals. She was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010, the first woman so recognised. A successful journalist, after dinner speaker and expert in public relations she also was Vice-President of the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football (Soccer) Club.
MCC president Matthew Fleming said: “Rachael Heyhoe-Flint was a pioneer of women’s cricket – she was the first global superstar in the women’s game and her overall contribution to the MCC, cricket and sport in general was immense.”
Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s cricket, said: “She was so special, so ever-present and now she has gone – but her impact can never be forgotten. Rachael was one of our sport’s true pioneers and it is no exaggeration to say that she paved the way for the progress enjoyed by recent generations of female cricketers.”
Yesterday flags were flying at half-mast at Lord’s and Wanderers’ Molineux stadium.
Rachael Heyhoe-Flint was awarded the MBE in 1972, the OBE in 2008 and was made a life peer in 2011.
The Bradman Museum was fortunate to record an interview with Rachael in 2011 enabling visitors to the Museum to listen to her story on a daily basis.
Our thoughts go out to her immediate family and friends. Women’s sport has lost a giant, a person who not only pioneered pathways for women’s cricket but also was a trail blazer for women being accepted into the MCC membership, journalism, commentary and politics. There are many women who have been instrumental in growing the women’s game to its current global success, but no one more than Racheal Heyhoe-Flint. She inspired generations of young girls to keep playing the game they loved, Rachael’s milestones and achievements over the years became the building blocks for the global acceptance of women’s cricket which we all enjoy today.
Image courtesy of Philip Brown.