The Marylebone Cricket Club has recently announced that the famous matches between Eton and Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge will no longer be able to take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground after 2022.
The two most historic and famous Public schools in Britain have played nearly every year at the home of cricket but on Tuesday the MCC announced they wished to make room for a ‘wider range of players’.
Players such as Lord Byron, Alec Douglas-Home and Henry Blofeld are all notable names to have featured in the Public schools’ fixtures while former captains Mike Atherton, Mike Brearley, Ted Dexter and Colin Cowdrey have all played in the University Match.
Oxford and Cambridge played their first Lord’s match in 1827 but their regular fixture at the iconic ground will come to an end this year.
The Eton v Harrow match is known as one of the oldest fixtures in the history of cricket. Records suggest that they first met at Lord’s Old Ground in 1805, returning to the new site in 1818 and again 1822 before the fixture became an annual event with few exceptions (including both World Wars).
So why has MCC decided to make this decision?
Why have MCC cancelled their contracts with Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge?
The decision from the MCC has come after a terrible year for the image of cricket in England.
Azeem Rafiq sparked a nationwide racism scandal within cricket after he exposed the racism he had been subjected to during his time at Yorkshire County Cricket.
There was initially little reaction from the England’s spinner’s former club, followed by another reluctant response from the England and Wales Cricket Board.
What followed was a number of other cricketers coming forward in support of Rafiq, detailing their own experiences and a committee hearing from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport accusing the game to be ‘deep-seated’ in its racism as well as giving a warning to the ECB to ‘clean up its act’.
On Tuesday 15 February 2022, the MCC released a statement saying: “The fixture between the two universities, as well as the Eton v Harrow match, will no longer be played as regular annual fixtures at Lord’s after 2022.
“This move aims to further MCC’s goal to broaden the scope of the fixture list, extending playing opportunities at Lord’s to a wider range of players.
“The club’s priority and aims going forward are to offer more playing opportunities to a winder range of people in future, improving the balance between men’s and women’s cricket and broadening the scope for cricketers to realise their ambition of playing at Lord’s.
“The Club recognizes the rich history of these fixtures and would like to thank all four institutions for their support and cooperation.”
What have the universities and schools said?
The schools declared themselves to be ‘naturally disappointed’ by the announcement but went on to thank Lord’s for the privilege they had enjoyed up to this point.
The two Universities released statements appearing to applaud the move.
A spokesman for Oxford said: “OUCC completely supports the MCC in this decision and its ambition to offer playing opportunities at Lord’s to a wider range of players in the future.”
Cambridge had a similar statement which said it “enthusiastically welcomes the MCC decision to make way in following seasons for a wider range of people to realise their ambition of playing at Lord’s, which chimes with the university’s own ambitions on widening access and participation.”
What other events are on the MCC’s calendar?
The first Women’s One Day international for five years is set to end the summer schedule for Heather Knight and her squad as they take on India in September.
There is also set to be a T20 Double header against the National Asian Cricket Council in May.
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