sIR Andrew Strauss obe, the former England and Middlesex captain, and ECB’s former Director of Cricket, delivered the 21st MCC Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Wednesday 1 February 2023.
MCC Members and special guests, including members of the Cowdrey family, were among the audience for the evening while over 4,000 viewers tuned into the live stream of the lecture on Lord’s YouTube and Facebook channels.
Strauss began his Lecture by speculating on cricket’s purpose when it was first invented in the 1600s.
“I sense that they were using the game as a way of connecting people, in essence, bringing people together, wherever they were from and whatever their background to form a community of those with shared interests.”
Later on, Strauss reflected on the impact the Spirit of Cricket will have as cricket evolves due to the increased cash flow as a result of T20 franchise leagues across the world.
“I see the Spirit of Cricket perhaps evolving into something quite different. If the purpose of the game is to connect, inspire and engage both players and supporters, then the Spirit of cricket, in my mind, needs to act as the oil that greases the cogs."
"Andrew has always been one of the leading voices within cricket, so there are few people that are better placed to comment on the state of the game."
Guy Lavender, MCC Chief Executive & Secretary said: “Over the course of his career, both on and off the field, Andrew has always been one of the leading voices within cricket, so there are few people that are better placed to comment on the state of the game.
“Tonight, Andrew provided a unique insight into the role that the Spirit of Cricket will continue to play as the game constantly evolves. We are incredibly grateful to him for sharing his time and delivering the 21st MCC Cowdrey Lecture.”
Strauss was joined by current England cricketers Tammy Beaumont and Jonny Bairstow for a discussion after his speech, with former England bowler Angus Fraser moderating topics.
Discussions included how to keep the Spirit of Cricket relevant in the changing nature of the sport, how the game has evolved over the years and how its continued innovation across the formats can help it grow and thrive. Making the game more accessible and sustainable as well as the rise of the women’s game were also discussed by the panel.
The lecture was livestreamed via the Lord’s YouTube and Facebook channels, reaching viewers from around the world.
The MCC Cowdrey Lecture, in memory of Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge, has become an annual highlight in the cricketing calendar, provoking debate and discussion of the major issues facing the game today.
The inaugural address was delivered in 2001 by Richie Benaud and past lecturers include Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mike Brearley.