MCC to ‘consult’ on scrapping Eton vs Harrow and Oxford vs Cambridge at Lord’s after backlash | Football News – Times of India

LONDON: Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said on Monday it would launch a “consultation process” next month on the future of the Eton vs Harrow and Oxford vs Cambridge matches at Lord’s after plans to remove the fixtures from its annual calendar provoked an angry reaction.
In February this year, MCC, the owners of Lord’s in northwest London, announced the fixtures between the elite fee-paying schools and England’s two oldest universities would no longer be guaranteed to be staged at the ‘Home of Cricket’ from 2023 onwards.
Both matches have been played at Lord’s since the 19th century.
That decision was met with a furious reaction from a hard core of the club’s 23,000 members, who secured a Special General Meeting (SGM) in September with the aim of overturning the decision in a ballot.
Only hours before the vote was due to take place, however, MCC announced it had agreed to a cancellation request from those who had called for the SGM in “the best interests of the club”.
MCC announced then it would launch a consultation process ahead of making a decision on the future of the fixtures at its 2023 annual general meeting on May 3.
As a result of the time needed, both fixtures will take place next season.
In a letter to the membership, MCC said Monday it will now conduct an online survey in January to canvas opinion, with the findings communicated to its members in February.
It will also hold four “roadshows” across England, including two at Lord’s, next month where members can “air your views”. The other two are at Manchester’s Old Trafford and Edgbaston in Birmingham.
In February, MCC chief executive Guy Lavender said one reason for the change was to reduce the amount of cricket played on the main ground because the club’s “overwhelming priority” must be to produce high-quality pitches for county and international matches.
The other driving factor was to give a wider range of players, including youth and women’s cricketers, the chance to play at Lord’s.
Several MCC members lamented the abandonment of cherished traditions, with Henry Blofeld, the cricket commentator who played in both fixtures, as a schoolboy at Eton and a student at Cambridge, telling The Times: “I suppose the ‘antis’ will be cheering and old farts like me will be sad. It is inevitable with the way that society has moved.”
MCC’s critics have often portrayed the club as hopelessly reactionary and elitist, an image Lavender is desperate for it to shed.
But only last month actor and cricket fan Stephen Fry, who has now started his one-year term as MCC president, said he was saddened if people thought there was “an element of woke-ism” behind scrapping the two fixtures as the move was about “opening the game up as much as possible”.
“Imagine if there was a ‘Road to Lord’s’ inter-school competition, which meant that your son or daughter was playing in the final because they had earned the right by beating other schools — one would be so much prouder,” Fry, himself a Cambridge graduate, also told Times Radio.
Although several former England captains, including Colin Cowdrey and Mike Smith (Oxford) and Mike Brearley and Mike Atherton (Cambridge), have played in the Varsity match, the universities no longer have first-class cricket status.
Eton and Harrow have played each other at Lord’s since 1805, with the poet George Byron taking part in the inaugural game.

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