Arguably the greatest figure in women’s cricket in England, Rachael Heyhoe Flint was the driving force behind the World Cup of cricket.
The biggest name in women’s cricket in the 1970s, an England captain who never lost a Test, an immovable force at the crease, and a prime mover in producing cricket’s first ever World Cup. Born on June 11th 1939 in Wolverhampton, Baroness Rachael Heyhoe-Flint.
Her Test debut came in the South Africa tour of 1960/61 under the leadership of Helen Sharpe. Modest returns with limited opportunities in the four Test series, but a half century in the Second Test proved that she was capable at this level.
By 1966 Rachael Heyhoe, now a mainstay in the middle order, is Test captain and leads the team to a 0-0 draw at home against New Zealand. Away to Australia in 1968/9 for the same result. Two victories against New Zealand in 1968/9 broke the drought. A young allrounder, Enid Bakewell, was becoming a key part of this team and an important part of Heyhoe’s success in years to come. Audrey Disbury, Lynne Thomas, Edna Barker and Mary Pilling would also become mainstays of the team.
In 1971, Rachael married Derrick Flint, a leg break bowler for Warwickshire and some 15 years her senior. She became Rachael Heyhoe Flint.
In 1973 Heyhoe Flint combined with businessman Sir Jack Heywood and organised the first World Cup of cricket. A brilliant century by Bakewell helped England defeat the Australians, allowing Heyhoe Flint to be the first captain to win a World Cup and it was duly presented to her by Princess Anne.
Australia toured England in 1976 with a very strong team under Anne Gordon. Both captains wrestled with declarations through the series but could not manufacture a victory. In the third Test, with Australia looking to run home with the match, a vigil of over 8 hours in the greatest captain’s knock of all time, her 176, a record high score, kept the Australian’s at bay.
Heyhoe Flint returned for one last series in 1979, but no longer captain, with Sue Goatman now at the helm. Still more than capable with the bat, it was time to draw the curtain. 1594 Test runs at 45.54 and 643 ODI runs at 58.45.
Among her greatest legacies, guiding younger players to reach higher, and breaking down the barriers for women into male strongholds such as Lords. Indeed, she skippered England to victory in the first ever match at the ground. Baroness Heyhoe Flint passed away on 18th January 2017.Embed from Getty Images