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Digital Subscriptions > The Cricketer Magazine > December 2017 > The county set

The county set

Marylebone Cricket Club are effectively the 19th county. The world’s most famous cricket club is profiled by Huw Turbervill
The best view in the house, from the famous pavilion benches

Marylebone Cricket Club is the world’s oldest and most famous cricket club. It owns the venue that all cricketers would love to play at, Lord’s. It stages the most prestigious match in the cricket calendar (in fact, it stages two Lord’s Tests per summer at the moment). For many, MCC is the 19th county. In recent years a row about ground redevelopment – and the funds needed to finance that – has raged, but a special meeting has, it is hoped by members, drawn a line under the affair. MCC is currently bidding to retain its two Tests per summer for the period 2020–24. That decision should be known in February. It will be a major story if it does not; if it does drop to one, that would obviously have an impact on some of the club’s programmes (but not the rebuilding work). It will also be a shock if the venue is not chosen as one of the venues for the non-county T20 from 2020. For most cricket fans MCC represents history, tradition and prestige; critics argue more should be done, however, to make the club more modern and inclusive.

History

It is believed MCC was founded in 1787 as an offshoot of the White Conduit Club. Since 1788, the club has administered the Laws of Cricket (after they were drafted in 1744 and 1774). It has been based at Lord’s, the St John’s Wood venue it owns, since 1814. Two other grounds had been previously been owned and used by Yorkshire businessman Thomas Lord: at Dorset Square and North Bank (before Regent’s Canal was constructed, forcing Lord to shift operations to the present site). MCC staged major and minor matches from 1787. The first was on July 30, against the White Conduit Club. Alas the scores of that no longer exist. The first scores of a recorded game were from June 27 1788, again against the WCC. Sadly a lot of records were destroyed in the 1825 fire that burnt down the pavilion, so comprehensive records only exist from 1826. Also destroyed in the fire was “an immensely valuable wine cellar”, which no doubt irked members. From the 1903/04 tour to Australia, to 1976/77 in India, MCC organised England Test tours. England away played in MCC colours into the 1990s, scarlet and gold (or bacon and egg as it is sometimes referred) and were called MCC in non-international games. MCC has 18,000 full members and 5,500 associate members. Members have voting rights and can use the Lord’s pavilion and stands to attend all matches there. The waiting list for membership is about 27 years. Women members joined from September 1998, with Rachael Heyhoe Flint among the first 10 inductees. Before that the Queen, the club’s patron, was the only female allowed in the pavilion. The club produces a coaching manual, The MCC Cricket Coaching Book.

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