The former England women’s cricket captain and vice-president of Wolverhampton Wonderers Rachael Heyhoe Flint has died aged 77, the football club has announced.
Heyhoe Flint died early on Wednesday morning after a short illness. She was a trailblazer for women’s cricket, captaining the national side in a career spanning two decades and in which she led the side to victory in the 1973 world cup, which she had also organised.
Heyhoe Flint made her Test debut for England as a 21-year-old in 1960. After she retired from playing, she became one of the first women admitted into the MCC and 2004 was the first woman elected to the full committee. She became one of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s first female directors in 2010.
“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,” the ECB chairman, Colin Graves, said. “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.”
The BBC’s Test Match Special team was among the first to respond via Twitter, describing Heyhoe-Flint as a “legend” and a “pioneer”. The MCC said on its Twitter feed: “MCC is deeply saddened to hear that Honorary Life Member, Rachael Heyhoe Flint has died aged 77 in a 20-year-career [she was] considered one of the finest women’s players ever.”
She worked for Wolverhampton Wanderers, her hometown club, in their public relations department from 1990, becoming a director of the club between 1997 and 2003.
“She was a wonderful lady who meant so much to so many people at the football club, in the city of Wolverhampton, and also much further afield,” the Wolves managing director, Laurie Dalrymple, said. “Rachael’s contribution to the world of sport, the local community, and in later years politics, cannot be measured, and neither can her seemingly never-ending kindness and generosity of spirit.”
She was appointed an MBE in 1972 and an OBE in 2008. In 2011 she was made a life peer and inducted into the ICC cricket hall of fame in 2010.
Her son, Ben Heyhoe Flint, said on behalf of the family: “We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Mum, and yet we’re filled with immense pride as we now look back on her achievements in government, cricket, football, charity and community on which she had such a profound influence.
“She tackled all of the above at full speed, showing us how grace, a cheeky sense of humour – and tenacity – can break glass ceilings. We hope that we all can continue the legacy that she leaves behind.”