Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) breaks new ground by sponsoring an international series for the first time in its 223-year history - the neutral Test and Twenty20 series between Pakistan and Australia.
The matches which are being played in England this July, will be sponsored by MCC under it's Spirit of Cricket banner - adding weight to the Club’s campaign to promote fair, competitive and enjoyable cricket at all levels of the game.
At the press conference (pictured left) were, from left to right: Mushtaq Mohammad, Zakir Khan (PCB), Keith Bradshaw, Tariq Hakin (PCB) and John Barlcay
MCC’s sponsorship of Pakistani cricket comes at a time when security concerns prevent the sub-continental nation from playing their matches at home.
Keith Bradshaw, MCC Chief Executive, said: "MCC is committed to the health of Test cricket, and by hosting the First Test and sponsoring the series, the Club is supporting Pakistani cricket at a time when the country’s Test calendar has been decimated.
"We always speak about Tests being the pinnacle of the game - and we’re acting to back up those words.
"I believe we’re breaking new ground in cricket by sponsoring two such exciting sides in both Test and Twenty20 formats with a not-for-profit campaign, aimed at improving awareness of the game’s cherished spirit."
MCC’s Spirit of Cricket campaign is growing by the year.
What began as a grass-roots initiative has now spread to the highest echelons of the game: the Indian Premier League binds its players to the Spirit of Cricket’s precept of ‘Play hard, Play fair’, and international players such as Andrew Strauss, Ricky Ponting and Umar Gul lend their support.
In order to reflect the international appeal and importance of the Spirit of Cricket, MCC has redesigned the logo to make it more simple, striking and contemporary.
New Honours Boards
MCC is also breaking with tradition in order to establish new ones.
The Honours Boards in the Home and Away Dressing Rooms at Lord’s detail every century, five-wicket haul in an innings and ten-wicket haul in a match that has occurred at Lord’s - with the exception of the two centuries scored in the previous neutral Test in 1912.
In 2010 MCC will establish new Honours Boards for neutral Tests, both to recognise past achievements and to give the Pakistan and Australia players - and all other neutral Test players that will follow them to Lord’s - the same chance to carve their name into history.
The new Honours Boards will be displayed in the Away Dressing Room.
In 1912 Charles Kelleway and Warren Bardsley scored centuries for Australia against South Africa in the last neutral Test held at the ground, but were not included on the Honours Boards.
They will be the first two names on the new neutral batting board.
MCC President John Barclay said: "MCC’s sponsorship of both the Test and Twenty20 series is a major boon not just to Pakistani cricket but to our own Spirit of Cricket campaign.
"Pakistan thrilled us all with their fairytale victory in the ICC World Twenty20 at Lord’s last year, and Australia are currently playing incredibly high-quality Test cricket, so both series will be intriguing.
"I am also delighted the MCC Committee has decided to create the neutral Honours Boards because it reinforces our commitment to hold more neutral Tests here, at the Home of Cricket."
The two international Twenty20 matches will be played at Edgbaston, but MCC will take on Pakistan in a Twenty20 contest at Lord’s on 10 July.
PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt said: "It is an historic moment for PCB to enter into a unique relationship with MCC as sponsors of the Pakistan v Australia series.
"The Club has come forward to support this series wholeheartedly which speaks of their commitment towards cricket. I am hopeful that this relationship will further strengthen the ties between PCB and MCC.
"I am also extremely grateful to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which is supporting us in organising this series in the UK.
"I wish MCC well in their Spirit of Cricket campaign."
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said that Australians had sought to play tough, uncompromising and competitive but fair cricket since the very first Test match in 1877:
"Australian players took time out in 2003 to formalise their own players’ Spirit of Australian Cricket pledge based on the concept of playing hard but fair and they work hard to try to live up to that pledge." he said.
The MCC Spirit of Cricket Test Series
The Test and International Twenty20 series will be known as "The MCC Spirit of Cricket Test Series" and the "The MCC Spirit of Cricket Twenty20 Series" respectively.
Both series comprise two matches. The MCC Spirit of Cricket Test Series will be played at Lord’s (13-17 July) and Headingley Carnegie (21-25 July); and both games of The MCC Spirit of Cricket Twenty20 Series will be played at Edgbaston, on 5 and 6 July.