Lord’s looks set to host Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge matches for at least the next four years, despite recommendations from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) that the traditional fixtures be abolished as part of the drive to increase diversity and inclusion.
Bruce Carnegie-Brown, MCC chair, said that regular discussions would continue but the MCC needed to find a balance between “respecting members’ views, the club’s history, and our commitment to enabling many more cricketers to play at Lord’s.”
Following the publication of the ECB’s official response to the ICEC report, Carnegie-Brown confirmed that he had written to the club’s membership with an update, calling the report a “comprehensive and thorough piece of work” and adding that the MCC was “committed to making cricket a game for anyone and everyone who has an interest in the sport by providing opportunities to play and/or watch”.The ECB is set to invest in the MCC Foundation and its network of Hubs, giving increased access to the game for children educated in state schools. But the governing body does not have the power to dictate which games are played at Lord’s, and Carnegie-Brown suggested that the MCC would not be deviating from the position it settled upon earlier this year, which was to review the status of the “historic” Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge fixtures in 2027.
“We announced in March that the annual fixtures between Oxford and Cambridge, and between Eton and Harrow, would be retained for a five-year period, with a review of the fixtures undertaken in 2027,” Carnegie-Brown said. “In light of the ICEC report this is a matter we will need to continue to keep under regular consideration.
“Whilst this approach may not go as far as meeting the ICEC’s specific recommendation, we believe that with all the initiatives MCC is supporting, both at Lord’s and around the country, we are striking a sensible balance between respecting members’ views, the club’s history, and our commitment to enabling many more cricketers to play at Lord’s.”
Among 44 recommendations from the ICEC report was replacing the Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge matches at Lord’s with “national finals’ days for state school U15 competitions for boys and girls, and a national finals’ day for competitions for men’s and women’s university teams”.
While the ECB’s response will include steps to hold grounds hosting England matches to mandatory equality, diversity and inclusion standards, chief executive Richard Gould said that did not extend to penalising Lord’s for continuing to stage the traditional schools and university fixtures.
“That was one of those recommendations which we have no authority on,” Gould said. “And so that’s something for the MCC to take forward.
“We’re not linking the staging of matches with that sort of element. We would much rather look in the round and in the whole, and see what impact clubs are having within their community as a whole. And we believe that this is a matter for the MCC and not the ECB.”