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Cricket legend Rachael features in a new book of people who shaped Britain

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Rachael Heyhoe Flint

The couple, both from Wolverhampton, join Sir Roger Moore, Lord Snowdon and Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond as the latest addition to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The book contains 64,071 biographies of the most important, influential or most infamous figures who shaped British history, written by over 14,000 different contributors.

The latest update, released today (sees an additional 241 personalities added to the dictionary, all of whom died in 2017.

The book describes Heyhoe Flint, who became a life companion in 2011, as possibly the most influential figure in women’s cricket of all time.

Born in Tettenhall in 1939, she was the son of PE teachers Roma Crocker and Geoffrey Heyhoe who both worked in schools in Wolverhampton.

Educated at Wolverhampton Girls High School and Dartford College of Physical Education, she followed in her parents’ footsteps by becoming a gym teacher at Wolverhampton Grammar School.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint in action

She combined this with playing both cricket and hockey for the England women’s teams, before becoming the sports editor of the Express & Stars sister newspaper, the Wolverhampton Chronicle in the 1960s.

In 1963, she became the first woman to hit a six in a test game while playing against Australia at the Oval.

In 1966 she was named captain of the cricket team, a position she held until 1978 that led the team to victory at the 1973 World Cup.

She married former Warwickshire cricketer Derrick Flint in 1971.

In 1999 she also broke new ground as the first female member of the MCC after applying under the name R Flint. Initially, the club officials assumed she was male, but agreed to admit her after two separate referendums on a rule change.

A tireless supporter of women’s cricket, she became friends with Sir Jack Hayward in 1971 after asking him for 40,000 to host the first women’s World Cup tournament.

When Sir Jack bought Wolverhampton Wanderers in 1990, she was appointed to handle public relations.

Seven years later, she became the club’s director and became vice president.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint

In addition to her many other accolades, she served as President of the Lady Taverners from 2001 to 2011 and also as Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

She was appointed an MBE in 1972, which was upgraded to an OBE in the 2008 New Year’s Roll of Honor. In 2010 she became the first woman inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

In 2011 she was also given the freedom of the city of Wolverhampton.

She was also a single digit handicap golfer and played hockey, squash and golf for Staffordshire.

Other prominent figures who made it into the new edition of the book include former Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness. The former IRA leader ended up in government with his longtime nemesis Ian Paisley after the Good Friday peace deal in 1997.

Gordon Wilson, the former leader of the Scottish National Party, is also included, along with former Welsh Prime Minister and Labor politician Rhodri Morgan.

Actress Rosemary Leach, showgirl Christine Keeler who was at the heart of the Profumo affair, and Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter also create the book.

Nobel laureate Oliver Smithies and journalist Clare Hollingworth, who brought out the news of the German invasion of Poland in 1939, are also featured for the first time.

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