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Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 19:10 GMT


MCC delivers first 10 maidens

Tony Lewis welcomes Diana Rait Kerr into the Long Room

The Marylebone Cricket Club has revealed its first 10 female members - ending 212 years of male exclusivity.

The club, based at Lord's, in London's St John's Wood, finally voted in favour of admitting women in a ballot of members last September.

[ image: Proud day: Membership cards finally issued]
Proud day: Membership cards finally issued
Eight of the women attended the inauguration at the club's Long Room.

The room had been barred to all women except the Queen - the club's official patron.

MCC president Tony Lewis said it was "without doubt, an historic moment".

Former England women's captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint, a campaigner for the admission of women to the MCC since 1991, was one of the 10.

She told reporters: "I might be referred to as the catalyst, who in 1991 had the temerity to apply to become a member."

She said she intended to be an active member, attending many matches, and contributing in any other way possible.

Nothing to do with money

Mr Lewis, a former England captain, denied the vote was inspired by political correctness demanded by potential sponsors.

[ image: The MCC: Exclusively male for 212 years]
The MCC: Exclusively male for 212 years
"The unanimous thinking of the committee was simply this - we could not claim to be a great cricket club unless we had a women's team and women members," he said.

An original ballot in February last year failed to win a two-thirds majority.

But pressure from lobby groups and the government forced a second vote, where a 70% majority overturned the rule.

20-year wait

Now any woman, provided she has the right cricketing credentials, can become a member of the MCC.

But she will have to play 15 qualifying matches over two years, unless she is deemed to be an "outstanding" cricketer.

In that case, she only has to promise to play 10 days in two years for the club.

There will be further honorary members but "ordinary" female cricket lovers will have to join the end of a 20-year waiting list.

The first officially sanctioned MCC women's team will play its first match on 11 May in East Molesey, Surrey.

The first 10 members:

  • Betty Archdale, who captained the first women's touring team to Australia and New Zealand in 1934/5

  • Edna Barker, a former captain of South of England and Surrey, who toured Australia and New Zealand with England and won 15 caps in total

  • Audrey Collins, whose playing career began in the 1930s and continued for over four decades. She served as President of the Women's Cricket Association from 1981 until 1993

  • Carole Cornthwaite, who played in 18 Test matches for England, and captained the team in 1986 and 1987 for six Tests and five one-day internationals

  • Jackie Court, who played for England 40 times

  • Rachael Heyhoe Flint, who played for England from 1960 to 1979, gaining 45 caps and captained the national team from 1966 to 1976 over 12 Tests and nine one-day internationals

  • Sheila Hill, who played cricket for Oxford University, Kent and East England and is a qualified umpire who umpired the final of the first women's world cup between England and Australia

  • Norma Izard, who was President of the Women's Cricket Association from 1994 to 1998 and was the longest-serving senior England manager, managing 12 international tours before stepping down in 1993

  • Diana Rait Kerr, curator of the MCC museum from 1945 until 1968

  • Netta Rheinberg who was player/manager of the England tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1948/9 and was Secretary of the Women's Cricket Association in 1945 and from 1948 to 1958

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