MCC, and the MCC Foundation hosted a ‘Game For All’ festival at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Friday 18 June, celebrating cricket in all its formats and the diversity of talent within the game with the National Asian Cricket Council (NACC).
The festival was scheduled to be held on the same day as a historic fixture for the Club, in which an MCC side were due to play against a NACC Representative XI on the Main Ground for the first time, which was sadly abandoned due to rain.
Fortunately, the festival went ahead and comprised:
A women’s soft ball cricket tournament with eight participating teams from around the country; Birmingham, Capital Kids Cricket, Crawley Eagles CC, Crouch End CC, East London, ECB, Luton, and Thornberry Ladies CC.
32 talented under-13s and under-15s nominated to take part in a young people’s hard ball workshop, using Lord’s Indoor Cricket Centre’s state-of-the-art facilities such as Hawkeye and bowling machines.
The festival is one of many initiatives that MCC and the Foundation work on year-round to make cricket a game for all. MCC’s Community Development team is working at grassroots level to ensure all young people in the communities local to Lord’s can access the game.
A participant in the tournament, Charulata Patel from the Luton Ladies team said: “I never thought that when I started to play cricket, I would end up coming to Lord’s. It’s absolutely amazing. It’s wet so we’re indoors but we’ve made the most of it and it hasn’t dampened anybody’s spirits.
“It’s a shame that we couldn’t bring all of our members along – we’ve got an age range of 13 to 60 playing at our Club. But it’s been so good playing with other women, and it’s been great to see the enthusiasm of other teams.”
"It is very special to see the Home of Cricket hosting this collaborative day which involves so many young players in competitive sport"
Speaking about the success of the festival, MCC Foundation Director, Dr Sarah Fane said: “We are delighted to take part in a day which celebrates the power of cricket to bring joy, unite communities, and empower women, girls and young people.
"It is very special to see the Home of Cricket hosting this collaborative day which involves so many young players in competitive sport and inspires the next generation to believe that cricket is a game for all.”
Coinciding with the festival, Lord’s was scheduled to host its first MCC fixture of the season in front of spectators, against a team representing the NACC who would have been making their debut on the Main Ground. Unfortunately, the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain.
The Club’s strategy for deepening its engagement with South Asian cricket communities developed in 2018, when ten matches took place across the country between MCC and NACC representative sides.
MCC Assistant Secretary (Cricket) John Stephenson said: “To create greater opportunities for the South Asian community to play cricket was one of our aspirations from the start of our relationship with NACC.
"It’s wonderful that we have been able to arrange exciting MCC fixtures for this season following the disappointment of last year. Unfortunately, the persistent rain didn’t permit any play at Lord’s on this occasion which is very disappointing for everyone.”
"I know how much the South Asian cricketing community welcomed and appreciated the strengthening of ties between two significant members of the cricketing family on and off the pitch"
National Asian Cricket Club Chairman Gulfraz Riaz said: “Our journey of true engagement with MCC started in 2018 after discussing the many ways we could work closer and truly bring the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ and understanding with the wider South Asian cricketing community nationally.
"I know how much the South Asian cricketing community welcomed and appreciated the wonderfully competitive cricket but also the strengthening of ties between two significant members of the cricketing family on and off the pitch.”
The remaining MCC v NACC fixtures for this season are:
25 June - MCC v NACC London and MCC Women v NACC Women at Crouch End Cricket Club, London
27 July – MCC v NACC North at Batley Cricket Club, West Yorkshire
28 July – MCC v NACC Wales and North West at Newport Cricket Club, South Wales
4 August – MCC v NACC South at Crawley Cricket Club, West Sussex
18 August – MCC v NACC East at Luton Town and Indians Cricket Club, Luton