Tuesday, October 4, 2022

MCC: Heyhoe Flint Gate officially unveiled at Lord’s

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MCC OFFICIALLY UNVEILED THE HEYHOE FLINT GATE AT LORD’S CRICKET GROUND TODAY ON THE FIRST MORNING OF THE ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA MEN’S TEST MATCH TO HONOUR THE LIFE OF BARONESS RACHAEL HEYHOE FLINT AND HER CONTRIBUTION TO CRICKET.

The East Gate was replaced and renamed the Heyhoe Flint Gate at an official ceremony before the day’s play, with Rachael’s son Ben joining MCC President Clare Connor and Chief Executive & Secretary Guy Lavender in opening the gate. In accompaniment, a bas relief sculpture of Rachael Heyhoe Flint and plaque were also unveiled.   

A trailblazer of women’s sport, Heyhoe Flint made her debut in 1960 and captained the national side in a career spanning two decades. She was hugely instrumental in setting up the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1973, leading England to victory in the inaugural tournament. Her performances on the field led to her induction into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010.

Heyhoe Flint 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.

The following year, Heyhoe Flint became one of the first female Members of the Club, alongside nine other women elected to Honorary Life Membership of MCC. In 2004, history was made again when she became the first woman to join the MCC Committee.

The official opening marks the latest celebration of women’s sport after an incredible summer which has seen the Lionesses’ historic Euro 2022 victory and the largest ever female programme in the Commonwealth Games.

Lord’s itself has hosted more women’s fixtures on the Main Ground than ever before this year, and next week launches its four The Hundred Women’s matches, including the final which last year welcomed over 17,000 spectators, a domestic record at the time. MCC is also excited to be welcoming back England Women for the first time in five years during its bumper weekend of women’s cricket to end the season, hosting an ODI against India and the final of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy at the end of September.

Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint was a driving force for women’s equality in sport and her contributions to the evolution of women’s cricket have helped pave the way for generations of female cricketing and sports stars.

A portrait of Heyhoe Flint, 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.  

“THE OPENING OF THE HEYHOE FLINT GATE IS A FITTING CELEBRATION OF THAT DRIVE AND CONTRIBUTION DURING AN HISTORIC SUMMER OF WOMEN’S SPORT”

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.”

Speaking about the Heyhoe Flint Gate, Rachael’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!”

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. The Bicentenary Gate, opened in 1987 to celebrate MCC’s 200-year anniversary, sits between the two at the rear of the Mound Stand.

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