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What is the SoC Cowdrey Lecture?

The late Colin Cowdrey
The late Colin Cowdrey

The 2013 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture which will be delivered by former international umpire Simon Taufel - but what is it?

Launched in 2001 with commentating doyen and former Australia captain Richie Benaud delivering the inaugural address, the MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture has become a significant date in the global cricket calendar.

The speech has been delivered by some of the foremost names from the cricket world and beyond, who are invited by the incumbent President of MCC to make the address.

Broadcasters, ex-playing legends, and even a significant figure from outside the game, The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, have discussed what the Spirit of Cricket means to them, where the game is strong and weak, and their belief as to how the game should develop.

Notable recent speeches include those of Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara, who drew headlines across the cricketing world for his stirring, forceful and honest appraisal of the history and present state of the game in his native country, and the late Tony Greig, who used what sadly turned out to be his last major appearance on the public stage to urge India to show strong leadership within cricket.

Kumar Sangakkara's Cowdrey Lecture - part one

Taufel's speech will be the third by a non-first-class cricketer, after those by Rev. Tutu and late MCC President Christopher Martin-Jenkins. He is enormously respected within the game though, having won the ICC Umpire of the Year award for five consecutive years, between 2004 and 2008 - before retiring in 2012 to become Umpire Performance and Training Manager for the ICC.

Cowdrey and the Spirit of Cricket

The idea has long existed in cricket that, as well as playing the game within the Laws, players should also act in accordance with the Spirit of the game.

However, until two former England captains and prominent Members of MCC, Ted Dexter and Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge led a campaign in the late 1990s, the Spirit had never been formally enshrined within the Laws of the game.

It entered in the 2000 Code of the Laws as a Preamble though, stating: "Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this Spirit causes injury to the game itself," before explaining the roles and responsibilities of captains, players and umpires.

Cowdrey died in late 2000, shortly after the new Code was launched, and the following year the first Lecture was delivered under Cowdrey's name.

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