Permanent Lord's tribute planned for women’s cricket pioneer Rachael Heyhoe Flint

A permanent memorial to women’s cricket pioneer Rachael Heyhoe Flint has been planned for Lord's.

Baroness Heyhoe Flint captained England to the first-ever Cricket World Cup title in 1973
Baroness Heyhoe Flint captained England to the first-ever Cricket World Cup title in 1973

But the plan by Clare Connor, who will be the first woman to become Marylebone Cricket Club president, has been met with opposition from some members, according to The Times.

Baroness Heyhoe Flint – who died in 2017, and was affectionately known as ‘Our Rachael’ in her home city of Wolverhampton – captained England to the first-ever Cricket World Cup title in 1973 while off the field her tireless determination for equality laid the foundations for the opportunities presented to modern-day players.

The suggestion from Connor for a memorial in the form of a statue or gate, who takes office in October, has been met with opposition from some of the club’s more traditional members, who say it smacks of “gesture politics”.

Connor, a former England women’s cricketer, told MCC members at their online forum meeting on Tuesday that, although a portrait of Heyhoe Flint hung in the pavilion, not enough had been done to commemorate her impact on the game.

Baroness Flint died in 2017

“She was so important to where the women’s game is now. I think a statue or gate on the ground would be appropriate and fitting. Hers is such a powerful name. There were 73 statues of cricketers erected in Australia before a female one was introduced and there are no others of females around the world,” said Connor, who has discussed her proposal with senior figures.

A memorial to Heyhoe Flint, which would be determined by MCC’s general committee, would prompt comparisons with WG Grace, commemorated at Lord’s through gates and a statue. It would also face opposition from within the 18,500 membership.

Mark Peel, a cricket author and member, said according to The Times: “I think it would be misguided to erect a statue. It would put everything out of proportion. To compare like with like — men’s and women’s cricket — is plain wrong.” He added: “This is gesture politics.”

Robert Griffiths QC, who chaired both MCC’s laws and its development committees, said: “Diversity is one thing but a statue or gate has to be named on merit. As a player you wouldn’t put her in the same league as Don Bradman and Garry Sobers, even within the women’s game.” He added: “I wouldn’t want it to be thought that Rachael didn’t make a huge contribution but WG Grace opened up the world of cricket to the heights it reached.”

The club said it wanted to address the imbalance of public recognition in cricket, adding: “MCC recognises the contribution that many women cricketers have made to the game and intends to mark these roles in perpetuity.”

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