DateLine: 18th January 2017
ECB today paid tribute to Baroness Rachael Heyhoe-Flint OBE, DL, whose death has been announced today at the age of 77. Her contribution to the development of cricket in this country and beyond has been immense.
From making her Test debut for England as a 21-year-old in 1960, to becoming one of the ECB’s first female directors 50 years later – when she was also the first woman inducted to the ICC’s Hall of Fame – Heyhoe-Flint was a trailblazer, particularly for the women’s game.
Among her other notable achievements, she played a key role in organising the first women’s World Cup in 1973 in which she captained England – two years before the men followed suit in 1975. Three years later, she captained England in the first women’s game at Lord’s.
She was one of the first women to be made members of the MCC in 1999, the culmination of a campaign in which she had played a prominent role, before becoming the first woman to be elected on to the MCC Committee in 2004, also serving on the MCC Cricket committee between 2004 and 2010. And she served for six years on the ECB Board, until standing down last autumn.
Colin Graves, the ECB Chairman, said:
“I sat with Rachael on the ECB Board for five years and considered it a privilege. She achieved so much for women’s cricket, and she was especially influential both on the Board and in the House of Lords, in what we did to tackle the problem across all sports for ticket touting. Her knowledge and understanding of key areas of the game was valued enormously by all their fellow directors.
“She was such an approachable person – she got on with everybody from whatever walk of life. And the development of women’s cricket to its current position, which really is unrecognisable from when Rachael was playing, is a lasting tribute to her.”
Tom Harrison, the ECB Chief Executive Officer, said:
"Rachael had a massive impact on cricket throughout her life in many different guises, as a player, an ECB Board Director and as an influential voice in the House of Lords, she was in every sense a lifelong ambassador for cricket in its widest context.
"She was simply extraordinary. Hugely energetic, committed, passionate and caring – cricket was hugely enhanced by her fearless approach and pioneering spirit, not to mention her wicked sense of humour which made her such wonderful company.
"She leaves a legacy which reaches way beyond cricket’s boundaries but her contribution to our game over a lifetime is immense. She will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her or had the privilege of calling her a friend. It is a very sad day and our deepest sympathies are with her family and many friends.”
Clare Connor, the ECB’s Director of Women’s Cricket, said:
"This is overwhelmingly sudden and sad news. It is hard to find the words to fully pay tribute to Rachael. She was so special, so ever-present and now she has gone – but her impact can never be forgotten.
"She was my friend and mentor and inspiration. And I am not alone; her impact, kindness and support was widely felt by so many.
"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. I will always remember and continue to be inspired by her fortitude, her deep love of the game and her wicked, wonderful sense of humour. We are all in her debt on this very sad day."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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