Permanent Lord's tribute unveiled for Wolverhampton cricket legend Rachael Heyhoe Flint

A memorial gate at Lord's cricket ground named in memory Wolverhampton's own Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint has been officially unveiled.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint ringing the five-minute bell at Lord's in 2010 (Photo: Sarah Williams)
Rachael Heyhoe Flint ringing the five-minute bell at Lord's in 2010 (Photo: Sarah Williams)

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) unveiled the Heyhoe Flint Gate, which replaced the East Gate, at a ceremony before the South Africa test match.

A view of the new Rachael Heyhoe Flint gate ahead of day one of the first LV= Insurance Test match at Lord's

Baroness Heyhoe Flint's son Ben joined with MCC president Clare Connor and chief executive and secretary Guy Lavender for the unveiling.

President Clare Connor (left) and Ben Flint officially open the new Rachael Heyhoe Flint gate at Lord's

And a bas-relief sculpture was revealed along with a plaque to honour the Wulfrunian, who passed away in 2017, and her pioneering work and contribution to women's cricket.

August 4 1976 – Cricket history was made today at Lord's when for the first time women were allowed to play a match there

Baroness Flint's son Ben Heyhoe Flint said: "The family are truly humbled by this incredible gesture from MCC and from the sport.

"Mum gave her life to the game, so it’s wonderful that the game now chooses to honour her: her contributions then, and the legacy she still leaves behind.

"I hope many young cricketers – boys and girls alike – pass through here and feel inspired by this memorial to a lady who won through with a measured blend of attack and defence."

Rachael Heyhoe Flint at Lord's cricket ground

Original plans for the tribute would have seen the Heyhoe Flint Gate to replace the North Gate on Wellington Road, but were changed after feedback raised concerns about the impact on the leasehold land.

The gate is set to be "operational" in time for the England Women's One-Day International and the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Final.

A trailblazer in women’s cricket, she made her England debut in 1960. She was hugely instrumental in setting up the Women’s World Cup, captaining England to victory in the inaugural tournament in 1973.

And the Wulfrunian made made further history in 1976 when she became the first women cricketer to set foot – in a playing capacity – on the Main Ground at Lord’s. She remained a dedicated advocate for women’s inclusion in the game once her playing career ended and was pivotal in the campaign to allow women to become Members of MCC in 1998.

During her career she played in 22 Test matches and 23 ODIs, in which she averaged 45.54 and 58.45 respectively. Her performance on the field led to her induction into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010.

A portrait of the cricket legend, unveiled in 2010, is displayed in the Pavilion at Lord’s, above the entrance to the renowned Long Room, acknowledging the positive impact she had, not only on the women’s game, but on women’s rights to watch and enjoy cricket.

And she was affectionately known as ‘Our Rachael’ in her home city of Wolverhampton, she was also vice-president at Wolves, having previously served as the club's director from 1997 to 2003 after sparking a friendship with former owner Sir Jack Hayward.

A proud Wulfrunian, Baroness Heyhoe Flint was granted the Freedom of Wolverhampton in 2011 and such was the impact of her death, aged 77, Wolves players and England cricket players wore black armbands in her memory.

MCC president Clare Connor said: “Rachael Heyhoe Flint was not only one of the best female players to have played the game, but her pioneering drive to further the cause of women’s cricket for future generations has left a remarkable legacy and impact on our sport.

"Rachael’s influence in making it possible for women to play and watch cricket at Lord’s, and participate in the game more widely, was unparalleled and her contribution in breaking down barriers for women in cricket will always be remembered.

"The opening of the Heyhoe Flint Gate is a fitting celebration of that drive and contribution during an historic summer of women’s sport.

"Here at MCC, we are thrilled to have a permanent commemoration celebrating Rachael’s impact on and off the pitch, as she joins WG Grace in becoming only the second cricketer to have a gate named after her at Lord’s."

The Heyhoe Flint gate at Lord’s allows entry to the Ground between the Mound Stand and the Edrich Stand and is set to become as iconic as the Grace Gate, situated further south-west on St John’s Wood Road.

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