KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
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MCC has sent its congratulations to the Afghanistan cricket team following its historic qualification for the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies.
In an important week for the game’s administrators, MCC has also lent the ICC its widespread support to develop the Decision Review System (DRS), to further research the possibilities of day/night Test matches and a World Test Championship and to look into its Membership criteria in light of Cricket Ireland’s desire to become a Full Member of ICC.
The ICC Board, which met last week in Dubai, also concluded that a possible move back to Lord’s - its home from 1909 to 2005 - would be further examined.
Keith Bradshaw said: "It has been a hugely eventful week in the game. Everyone at MCC has been thrilled to see the progress of the Afghan national team.
"MCC has played its small part in their journey and it is gratifying to see how sport can overcome so many barriers and even tragedy. Myself and colleagues are personally delighted for Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi, who are two great guys and were very popular on the MCC Young Cricketers staff when they were at Lord’s in 2007.
"We feel that we can best contribute to the further development of the game in Afghanistan by concentrating on the grassroots in the country.
"With Matthew Fleming guiding us, and working in conjunction with Afghan Connection (opens in a new window), MCC will continue to lend our support in the region."
Commenting on decisions emanating from the ICC Board meeting in Dubai, Bradshaw added: "MCC is pleased that ICC will continue to develop the DRS in Test match cricket.
"Our World Cricket Committee was fully engaged and supportive in the process of trialling the technology. We support ICC’s assertion that early results have been positive and we will continue to help in this area.
"We’re also hugely encouraged by the ICC’s decision to conduct urgent research into providing greater context to Test cricket.
"The MCC World Cricket Committee has been a strong advocate of the need for a World Test Championship, with trials of day/night Tests a possibility and, once again, we’ll continue to do anything we can to help ICC research this matter."
With Ireland also qualifying for the ICC World Twenty20 this year, ICC’s decision to review its Membership criteria was applauded by Bradshaw: "MCC is delighted to see the progress of cricket in Ireland and hope that they continue the upward curve that would lead them to the top table of international cricket."
Finally, commenting on a possible ICC relocation back to Lord’s, Bradshaw said: "MCC never wanted to see ICC leave the Home of Cricket in the first place, and we would welcome them back with open arms.
"We would certainly look to incorporate the ICC’s needs into our Vision for Lord’s [the project for long-term improvements at the Ground]".
Since 2006, when an MCC team led by Mike Gatting lost to Afghanistan in an inaugural match in Mumbai, the world’s most famous cricket club has played an active part in trying to develop the game in Afghanistan.
Former England all-rounder and army officer Matthew Fleming - who sits on the MCC Committee - has twice been to Afghanistan to lead MCC’s efforts - alongside the charity Afghan Connection (opens in a new window) - to encourage Afghan children to play cricket.
Fleming attended an MCC Spirit of Cricket camp for more than 300 children at Jalalabad University in May 2009 and also attended the opening of two cricket pitches funded by MCC. Seven more will be built in the next 18 months.