Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has today announced that its Committee has agreed to a five-year extension of the period in which Lord’s Cricket Ground will host the fixtures between Oxford and Cambridge and Eton and Harrow, from 2024 onwards.
The future of the fixtures will then be considered again in consultation with Members. In practical terms, this means a review in the winter of 2027, leading to a vote, if necessary, at the Club’s 2028 AGM.
In addition, the Club will be inviting the organisers of competitions open to all schools and all universities to stage the finals of their respective competitions in those years, starting in 2024.
This arrangement has the support of those Members who last year formed the Historic Fixtures Group (HFG) who sought for the matches to be retained on the fixture list.
MCC consulted with its Members in January, with the survey showing that Members were equally divided on the specific issue of the two fixtures. There was a clear message about the need for change over time, with Members expressing an appetite to promote cricket as a game for all, and as a place where all feel welcome, whilst at the same time maintaining the Club’s history and traditions.
The Committee has met on several occasions to discuss the survey results. Whilst the Committee’s own position on the fixtures remains unchanged, it recognises that a vote is unlikely to deliver an outcome different from that of the survey.
Today’s announcement has the support and agreement of both the Committee and the HFG. It comes after renewed discussions, following a previous unsuccessful attempt to find a compromise. On that occasion, the Committee put forward a proposal to stage the two fixtures in alternate years, in rotation with new Road to Lord’s finals for schools and universities; whereas the HFG’s counter-proposal was for the two existing fixtures to be played for a minimum of ten years, alongside the new Road to Lord’s finals.
The Club will invite Oxford, Cambridge, Eton and Harrow to play their respective fixtures at Lord’s on an annual basis. This will continue to until the future of the matches is considered afresh, in consultation with Members. It has been agreed with the HFG that this review will take place in the winter of 2027. Should Members indicate a preference for change, then the matter will be put to a vote. Should it be decided at that point that the matches are to continue, the Committee would review the matter periodically.
The Club will also invite the organisers of competitions open to boys and girls from all schools and young men and women from all universities to host the finals of their tournaments at Lord’s on an annual basis, beginning in 2024. MCC have been in discussions with the Schools Cricket Conference, British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and ECB for over a year now to establish how it can help support their existing national competitions and encourage participation by offering finalists the opportunity to play at Lord’s.
The addition of schools and universities to the groups already competing on the Road to Lord’s supports MCC’s wider Cricket Strategy to provide more opportunities for the best cricketers from all backgrounds to play at the Ground. For example, the Main Ground will host the MCC Foundation National Hubs Finals, the ECB Junior National Club Championship Finals, the ECB National Club Championship Final and the Voneus Village Cup Final in 2023.
The Club’s Cricket committee will be tasked with prioritising the minor match programme from 2024 across a number of days which still enables the delivery of high-performing pitches for major matches, working together with Head Groundsman Karl McDermott.
"We look forward to welcoming new players and new audiences to Lord’s this season and in the years to come."
Bruce Carnegie-Brown, MCC Chair, said: “This announcement demonstrates that we are listening to our Members who want us to play our part in making cricket a game for all and to respect our history and traditions.
“With a number of initiatives in place for the 2023 season, including a variety of men’s and women’s matches, a simplified membership application process, a rapidly growing MCC Foundation and community programmes for under-represented cricketers, we look forward to welcoming new players and new audiences to Lord’s this season and in the years to come.”
In support of the compromise agreed between the MCC Committee and the Historic Fixtures Group, HFG Chairman Michael Hall said: “We fully endorse this outcome. Finding room at Lord’s for both the Historic Fixtures and the finals of the Road to Lord’s competitions is something that everybody should applaud.
"No-one could have foreseen quite how divided the Club became on this issue and the Committee deserves credit for implementing a pragmatic solution that gives those divisions the opportunity to heal, yet also leaves a sensible review mechanism in place. We will now all work towards making the Historic Fixtures and the Road to Lord’s a resounding success.”