Marylebone Cricket Club
Current ground occupied since 1814
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) is a cricket club in London, founded in 1787. It owns, and is based at, Lord's in St John's Wood, London NW8. MCC was formerly the governing body of cricket both in England and Wales as well as worldwide. In 1993 many of its global functions were transferred to the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its English governance passed to the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB) at the same time.
Since its foundation, the club has raised its own teams which are essentially occasional and have never taken part in any formal competition. Depending on the quality of the opposition in any given match, MCC teams have held important match status from 1787 to 1894; and official first-class status from 1895. MCC has never played in a List A match.
MCC teams play many matches against minor opposition and, on these occasions, they relinquish their first-class status. Traditionally, to mark the beginning of each English season in April, MCC plays the reigning County Champions at Lord's, this being a first-class match. MCC sides regularly tour overseas to all cricket-playing nations and to developing ones as well, e.g. Afghanistan in 2006, and the club has an extensive fixture list every season throughout Britain, particularly with schools.
History and role
The exact date of MCC's foundation is lost but seems to have been sometime in the late spring or the summer of 1787. According to Pelham Warner, the White Conduit Club was formed in 1782 as an offshoot from a West End convivial club called the Je-ne-sais-quoi, some of whose members frequented the White Conduit House in Islington and played matches on the neighbouring White Conduit Fields. Many of its members soon became dissatisfied with the surroundings and complained that the site was "too public". They asked Thomas Lord, a professional bowler at the White Conduit, to secure a more private venue within easy distance of London; they guaranteed him against any financial losses. When Lord opened his new ground in May 1787, the White Conduit moved there and soon afterwards renamed themselves as "the Mary-le-bone Club". There was a match at Lord's starting on 30 July 1787 titled Marylebone Cricket Club v White Conduit Club (the scorecard and other details are lost). In 1837, a South v North match was staged at Lord's to commemorate the MCC's Golden Jubilee, Warner describing it as "a Grand Match to celebrate the Jubilee of the Club" and reproducing the full scorecard which can also be seen in Cricket Archive.
From the beginning of the 20th century, MCC organised the England cricket team and, outside of Test matches, the touring England team officially played as "MCC" up to and including the 1976/77 tour of Australia. The England touring team wore the distinctive red and yellow stripes of the Marylebone Cricket Club as their colours for the last time on the tour to New Zealand in 1996/97.
The true provenance of MCC's colours is (and probably will remain) unknown, but its players often turned out sporting Sky Blue (incidentally the colours of both Eton College and Cambridge University) (whereas the colours of Harrow School, Winchester College and Oxford University are similar), until well into the 19th century. The club eventually settled on the now well-recognised colours of scarlet and gold, One theory is that MCC adopted these colours from J&W Nicholson & Co's gin after the company's chairman, MCC benefactor William Nicholson (1825–1909), secured the club's position at Lord's with a loan. Another theory, which chimes with the club's origins, is that MCC borrowed its colours from the livery colours (racing) of a founding patron, Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, of Goodwood fame.
Laws of Cricket
Although MCC remains the framer and copyright holder of the Laws of Cricket, this role has increasingly come under pressure as the ICC seeks to exercise control over all aspects of the world game. In recent times the ICC has begun instituting changes to match regulations (e.g., in One Day Internationals (ODIs)) without much consultation with MCC. Also, in moving its location from Lord's to Dubai, the ICC gave a signal of breaking with the past and from MCC, although the lower taxation in Dubai was the official reason given. Changes to the laws of cricket are still made by the MCC.[note 1] Any changes to these laws require a resolution of the MCC committee and must be notified to those members entitled to vote no later than the next Annual General Meeting following the change. (Rule 27).
MCC has long had a deep involvement in coaching the game of cricket. As of 2013[update] the club's head coach Mark Alleyne heads an extensive operation involving the running of an indoor-cricket school and a team of coaches in England and around the world. MCC produces a coaching manual, the MCC Cricket Coaching Book.
In order to join the waiting list of candidates for membership one must obtain the vote (of which each full member has one a year) of three members, and the additional sponsorship of a person on the List of MCC Sponsors (which consists of members of all MCC Sub-Committees; MCC Committee; MCC Out-Match Representatives; and the Current, Past, and Designate President). As the demand for membership always outstrips supply each year (i.e., there being just over 400 places in 2005), there continues to be a substantial waiting list for Full Ordinary Membership, currently around 27 years. This waiting list has increased in recent years (up from 18 years in 2006), and is beginning to reflect the 30-year wait which was the norm in the 1920s. There are, however, ways to lessen the time it takes to become a full member: one may qualify as a Playing Member, or Out-Match Member (although this carries none of the privileges of membership, apart from being able to play for the club).
Alternatively, some are awarded Honorary Life Membership. Current Honorary Life Members include Wasim Akram, Mike Atherton, Dickie Bird, Sir Ian Botham, Keith Bradshaw, Aravinda de Silva, Andy Flower, Kumar Sangakkara, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, David Gower, Sir Richard Hadlee, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Rachael Lady Heyhoe-Flint, Nasser Hussain, Glenn McGrath, Sir John Major, Henry Olonga, Barry Richards, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Garfield Sobers, Hashan Tillakaratne, Michael Vaughan, Shane Warne, Waqar Younis and Mahela Jayawardene. Four members of the British Royal Family are also Honorary Life Members, including The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The former British Prime Minister David Cameron is a Member. His name was initially put down in 1987, and he passed over for membership as he had lost contact with the club when they offered him Associate membership. When Mr Cameron re-contacted them in 2010 his name would have been on the waiting for long enough to have been offered full membership, which was subsequently offered to him. This is contrary to the normal procedure. For all other candidates, membership is offered when the candidate comes to the top of the waiting list. The candidate then has one month (three months if registered in the books of the club as outside the British Isles) to accept and pay the joining fee and their first annual subscription. Should the candidate fail to do so, the election of that potential member is void and the candidate has to reapply and join the end of the waiting list.
The club's members persistently refused to allow female membership well into the 1990s, with club ballots on the change unable to attract the two-thirds majority amongst the membership required for implementation. The move to change was spearheaded by Rachael Heyhoe Flint who applied as "R Flint" to slip into the male-only application system. A 70% majority of members eventually voted to allow female membership in September 1998, so ending 212 years of male exclusivity, and 10 honorary life members were immediately admitted, including Heyhoe Flint. Up until this time the Queen, as the club's patron, was the only woman (other than domestic staff) permitted to enter the Pavilion during play. Later five women were invited to join as playing members.
Further controversy occurred in 2005 when the club was criticised (including by a few of its own members) for siding with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over the latter's decision to award television rights for Test cricket to British Sky Broadcasting, thus removing Test cricket from terrestrial television. The Secretary & Chief Executive of MCC at the time, Roger Knight, represented the club on the board of the ECB and was party to this controversial and much criticised decision. Test cricket had been shown free to viewers on British television for more than half a century.
Another controversy was MCC's decision to allow members and other spectators to continue to bring limited amounts of alcoholic drinks into the ground at all matches. This decision challenged the ICC, which was attempting to implement a ban on this practice at all international matches around the world. MCC has opted to write to the ICC on an annual basis to seek permission for members and spectators to import alcohol into Lord's. No other Ground Authority has thought it necessary to seek permission from the ICC for their members and spectators to import alcohol into their cricket ground, there being money to be made out of selling alcohol themselves.
Given its heritage, MCC continues to participate in the administration of English cricket, and in 2010 offered Lord's as a neutral venue for Pakistan to stage a "home" Test match, as scheduled by the ICC, versus Australia; the club's initial offering was made with the intention that Pakistan, whose terrorist-stricken country had rendered it a no-go area for international cricket, could remain within the international cricketing fold.
The Secretary & Chief Executive of the club has a place on the administrative board of the England and Wales Cricket Board and it is reported that Keith Bradshaw (the outgoing Secretary & Chief Executive) may have been influential in the removal from office of England Coach Duncan Fletcher in April 2007.
In 2012 MCC made headlines over a controversial redevelopment plan, Vision for Lord’s, that would have increased capacity but included construction of residential flats on some of the MCC site. Internal strife over the process of making a decision on the proposal led to the resignation of former prime minister Sir John Major from the main committee.
MCC teams continue to play regularly, occasionally still at first-class level. The club has traditionally produced its MCC Coaching manual, a bible for cricket skills, and runs training programmes for young cricketers, including at its Indoor Centre at Lord's.
MCC also continues to tour around England, playing matches against various state and private schools. This tradition has been followed since the 19th century. The club also has a real tennis and a squash court, and active golf, Chess, bridge and backgammon societies.
Often viewed as overly staid and pontifical (i.e. "Establishment"), the club has of late improved its image in the eyes of the public and media, partly because it remains a citadel for tradition in a fast-changing landscape and partly because it has made a concerted move towards image-improvement. "It would be overstating things to claim that the MCC has come full circle," admitted Andrew Miller at the beginning of October 2008, "but at a time of massive upheaval in the world game, the... colours of NW8 have ceased to represent everything that is wrong with cricket, and instead have become a touchstone for those whose greatest fear is the erosion of the game's traditional values."
In April 2008 in Mumbai, the Indian Premier League, viewed by some as the very antithesis of MCC, pledged its allegiance to the club's Spirit of Cricket campaign. Since then, the MCC has embraced and indeed promoted T20 at Lord's.
Up until 2013 the MCC was a private members club (and this meant that it had the status of an unincorporated association). This status had several limitations. Since an unincorporated association is not a legal entity, it could not own property (such as Lord's Cricket Ground itself) in its own name. It could not sue anybody, or indeed be sued (any legal action had to be taken against the Secretary & Chief Executive personally). In the event that a claim was successful, the committee and even the members themselves would have had to fund any financial shortfall. The club therefore called a Special General Meeting in June 2012 to consider petitioning the Queen in Council to incorporate the club by Royal Charter. The charter would remove many of the barriers and simplify the administration of the club.
Resulting from the petition, in December 2012 the club was granted a Royal charter, two previous attempts having been unsuccessful. As a result, the club became an incorporated association and is now able to hold assets, including the Lord's ground, in its own name instead of via a custodian trustee. It also meant that the individual members, as the club's owners, ceased to have a potential liability should the club ever get into serious financial trouble.
Since 2005 the MCC has funded six university cricket academies known as the MCC Universities (MCCUs). (Prior to 2010 they were known as the University Centres of Cricketing Excellence (UCCEs).) They are based at Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Leeds/Bradford, Loughborough and Oxford, and incorporate a total of thirteen educational establishments. As of 2012[update], all six MCCUs have been granted first-class status by the ECB. Each MCCU plays a trio of matches against professional county sides at the beginning of each season, with first-class status conferred on the first two of these matches.
Officers of the Club
Presidents serve a twelve-month term and cannot serve two terms in succession. Each President is required to nominate his successor at the AGM which takes place during his term of office.
The Club Chairman and the Treasurer serve a three-year term. Both are appointed by the committee (but subject to approval of the voting members). Both can serve terms in succession.
The Secretary and Chief Executive is the senior employee of the club and is appointed solely by the MCC committee.
The committee consists of the above officers plus the chairmen of any other committees that may exist at the time of any meeting plus 12 elected members. Elected committee members are appointed for a three-year term. An elected committee member cannot be re-elected upon retirement unless there is a gap of at least one year between terms of office.
- President: Matthew Fleming
- Club Chairman: Gerald Corbett
- Treasurer: Robert Leigh
- Secretary & Chief Executive: Derek Brewer
- This is currently the MCC's position. The recently granted Royal charter of incorporation specifically states that "The objects for which the club is incorporated shall be ... [list of other objects] ... making and owning the laws of cricket. This was necessary because previously as an unincorporated private members club, it could not directly own the laws or their copyright."
- Chris Roberts, Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind Rhyme, Thorndike Press,2006 (ISBN 0-7862-8517-6).
- "Preface". Laws of Cricket. MCC.
- ACS (1981). A Guide to Important Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles 1709 – 1863. Nottingham: ACS.
- ACS (1982). A Guide to First-Class Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles. Nottingham: ACS.
- Birley, p. 145.
- Warner, p. 18.
- Warner, p. 17.
- Birley, p. 47.
- Altham, p. 51.
- "Other matches in England 1787". CricketArchive. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Warner, pp. 28–29.
- "South v North, July 1837". CricketArchive. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Rule 1 of the MCC club rules (dated 1 July 2013) states, "The club shall be called the Marylebone Cricket Club and its colours shall be Scarlet and Gold".
- Para 7 of the Royal charter states, "The colours of the club shall be scarlet and gold"
- Williams, Glenys. "The colours of MCC". About MCC. Marylebone Cricket Club. Retrieved 19 July 2009.
William Nicholson continued to loan the Club substantial amounts for numerous projects over the next 30 years and was President of MCC in 1879. William Nicholson was the owner of the Nicholson's Gin Company, the colours of which were red and yellow. Although no written proof has yet been found there is a strong family tradition that the adoption of the red and gold was MCC's personal thank you to William Nicholson for his services to the club - sport's first corporate sponsorship deal perhaps!
- Leach, John (2007). "From Lads to Lord's, The History of Cricket: 1781 – 1786: 1787 – Lord's and the MCC". Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Rules of the Marylebone Cricket Club (1 July 2013).
- Rules of the Maylebone Cricket Club: Rule 2.6.
- "MCC Membership - How to Join - Lord's". Lords.org. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- "England v India: Sachin Tendulkar warms up for his shot at history by facing an 18-year-old girl in the nets". The Telegraph. 19 July 2011.
- "Duke and Duchess Become MCC Members". Marylebone Cricket Club. 9 October 2014.
- "EXCLUSIVE: David Cameron about to become member of MCC after 25 year wait - Gazette". Conservativehome.blogs.com. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- Rules of the MCC, Rule 3.15 and 3.16
- "MCC set to accept women". BBC. 27 September 1998.
- "MCC delivers first 10 maidens". BBC. 16 March 1999.
- "Five maidens join Lord's". BBC. 11 February 1999.
- Kelso, Paul (23 December 2005). "ECB in Knott over TV deal". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- "England to limit coach's powers". BBC. 30 April 2007.
- Hoult, Nick (15 May 2012). "New MCC chief executive Derek Brewer starting afresh on the controversial Vision for Lord's". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Bose, Mihir (1 March 2013). "At home: Derek Brewer". ft.com. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
- Miller, Andrew (1 October 2008). "We're riding the crest of a cricket revolution". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
- Notice of Special General Meeting to be held on 25 June 2012
- "Sport in Brief: Cricket". Daily Telegraph. 15 December 2012. p. S21.
- "MCC Universities - investing in a cricketing education". www.lords.org. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
- "All MCCUs granted first-class status". ECB. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
- Rules of the Marylebone Cricket Club (1 July 2013)
- "MCC Committee". Lords.org. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
- Harry Altham, A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914), George Allen & Unwin, 1962.
- Derek Birley, A Social History of English Cricket, Aurum, 1999.
- Pelham Warner, Lord's 1787–1945, Harrap, 1946.
- Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970.
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket, Cotterell, 1935
- G. B. Buckley, Fresh Light on pre-Victorian Cricket, Cotterell, 1937
- David Frith, The Golden Age of Cricket 1890-1914, Lutterworth, 1978.
- Stephen Green, Lord's, Cathedral of Cricket The History Press Ltd, 2003.
- Arthur Haygarth, Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826), Lillywhite, 1862.
- John Major, More Than A Game, HarperCollins, 2007.
- Jonathan Rice, Presidents of MCC, Methuen Publishing, 2006.
- Graeme Wright, Wisden at Lord's, Wisden, 2005.
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