MCC has made a U-turn over the cancellation of the traditional Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge matches at Lord’s, following an uprising by a prominent group of members.
Held at Lord’s since 1805 and 1827 respectively (with rare exceptions), the matches are among the longest-running annual sporting rivalries in the world.
That decision was met with alarm, however, by parts of the club’s 18,500 voting members, with a spokesperson for the Committee for the Restoration of Historic Fixtures at Lord’s declaring it “equivalent to cutting down oak trees to house saplings” .
With the prospect of divisiveness looming, MCC has now confirmed that a special general meeting scheduled for Tuesday night has been canceled and that a new vote on the status of the matches will be held at the club’s AGM in May 2023.
“In the interest of the club, the MCC committee has agreed to cancel the meeting,” MCC said in a statement. “This has come at the request of the group of members this morning who contested the original decision.
“While the committee and the plaintiffs stand by their respective positions, the two sides will work together on the next steps, which will include a consultation process between MCC and its members regarding the future of the two competitions.
“Given the time required for this, both sides have agreed that the committee will invite the four institutions to replay their respective matches (Eton v Harrow and Oxford v Cambridge) at Lord’s in 2023.”
The climb is an embarrassment to the club’s incoming president, Stephen Fry, who will take office on October 1, and this week he spoke out in favor of the move’s shift towards modernization.
“My appeal to MCC members is, ‘If you really like cricket, don’t you want more kids to play?'” he said on Sunday. “Don’t you want to lose that image it sometimes still has: a tough image of snobbery and elitism?”