Q&A: Jamie Clifford

Wednesday 20 May, 2020

As cricket looks to navigate the Coronavirus outbreak, we chatted with MCC Assistant Secretary (Membership & Operations) Jamie Clifford about how his team is adapting to Covid-19 and the biggest challenges facing MCC.

As Assistant Secretary (Membership & Operations), what would you normally be doing at Lord’s on a day-to-day basis?

Normally at this time of year we would be flat out with the season underway at Lord’s and gearing up for hosting our first international cricket match of the year.

We have a fantastic Operations team who would be into the heart of executing our plans for the summer. Of course, this is not so this year, but we have continued to plan through possibilities for cricket later in the season.

I also pick up matters around the Membership side of the Club, including at this time of year, managing the AGM, one of the most important member events we hold annually. This should have taken place in early May, but we are now planning for a deferred date and for the first time ever, to hold it virtually. 

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, how have you and your team adapted and what’s remained constant?

I think it has actually been a very valuable period of time. Of course, we would rather we weren’t facing the challenges that we do, but it has helped us to adapt our ways of working and develop solid IT systems that we can rely on. Much of this will stand us in good stead in future years.

One thing that has worked particularly well is our increased communication with Members. This started as a way of us keeping in touch, but with Members eagerly submitting stories of times they have enjoyed at Lord’s over the years, we are also now building up a really colourful social history of the Club as well as having regular interactive contact through the story sharing.

Jamie Clifford in the Long Room

As one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world what will be the biggest challenges for MCC in getting Lord’s back up and running and how will you overcome them?

We run a very solid operation that has been built over very many years. We have many excellent staff who make match days work and they will be ready to go when the time comes. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty of timing – we just don’t know how soon we might be operating again and in what form. This means we need to keep in touch with what is going on elsewhere as this is likely to inform what we do next. But come the moment we will be ready and excited to get the show back on the road.

What do you think will be the new normal for cricket and other mass gathering sports and how can MCC lead the way?

Well we are going to have to be agile in our approach to the challenges that all venues will face. I am confident that we can adapt and ensure that Lord’s does things well. That said, I imagine that many things will be different, but I know that there is such a hunger for the return of live cricket that all will play their part in making sure it is as good as it can be.

What life lesson have you learnt from this experience?

That you can back communities to adapt to new circumstances and to rally around to support those in need. I am not sure I ever doubted that, but it has been a very heartening part of what has happened and is happening. I am also confident that this will endure in many respects into the future.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, and by whom?

It relates to children in lockdown, and I can’t recall where I heard it. But it went along the lines of ‘don’t expect too much of your children – it is stressful for them – but do take the opportunity to encourage them to work independently and with curiosity, because these are life skills that they will always value’.  It is hard for children who are missing school so much, but it is a great opportunity to develop new skills and a different approach to that which is developed in the classroom.