Question: Who organised cricket’s first World Cup?
Clue, it is a trick question.
Answer: Rachael Heyhoe Flint organised cricket’s first World Cup, the women’s World Cup of 1973, and what’s more she organised it single-handedly, two years before the men played their first world tournament.
Heyhoe Flint, 77, died last week, honoured as a Baroness in the 2010 British honours list but unfortunately never recognised as a president of the MCC. She was, however, the first honorary women’s member of the MCC and also served on its cricket and main committees.
She captained England from 1966-78 and in 1976 captained England’s women in their first game at Lord’s. She played 22 Tests and 23 ODIs and was the first woman inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2010.
In a world where women have faced an especially tough battle for recognition, let alone parity, Heyhoe Flint was a quiet worker taking the ‘softly, softly, catchee monkey’ approach to advancement.
And to some measure it was effective as women’s place in the game advanced significantly, and it has to be said that New Zealand Cricket helped achieve that with the amalgamation of mens and womens in the 1990s. Heyhoe Flint would have acknowledged New Zealand Cricket’s appointment of Debbie Hockley as president of the national body.
The ECB’s director of women’s cricket, Clare Connor said of her: “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 crickets. 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.”
Vale Rachael Heyhoe Flint (right).