Last bastions of male sport set to embrace women

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Two great sporting traditions are finally set to welcome in women. MCC's committee is soon to admit women members, while the Henley Regatta yesterday elected its first woman steward.

Marylebone Cricket Club's hierarchy is prepared to open its doors to women for the first time next year - if two-thirds of the membership agrees.

The committee is apparently contemplating the revolutionary idea that women should be allowed into the Lord's pavilion as members or guests on match days. But the rank-and-file will still have the final say, and will vote on the issue at a special general meeting at Lord's on 24 February.

MCC secretary Roger Knight has sent out to members a report of last week's meeting, when the committee decided to pursue a course which would be a radical change for the club, formed in 1787. The proposal follows a vote in 1991, when the motion was defeated but an undertaking was given to raise the matter again in five years.

The committee's support for women members, along with the backing already voiced by MCC president Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, is cause for optimism, according to Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, the former England women's cricket captain.

She warned, however: "I still could not judge how they will vote, but certainly it seems fair to say the matter is being addressed with more enthusiasm than on past occasions."

Women stewards have played no part in Henley Royal Regatta's 158-year history, but that is now to change. Regatta officials announced yesterday that for the first time a woman has been elected to the Henley board. Di Ellis has chaired the executive committee of the Amateur Rowing Association for 10 years, and has recently been elected to the British Olympic Association.