Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was founded in 1787 – a fact gathered from a poster for a cricket match in 1837 announcing MCC’s Golden jubilee.
Before then, however, aristocrats and noblemen played their cricket in White Conduit Fields at Islington, London. Like shooting and fox-hunting, cricket was considered a manly sport for the elite – with plenty of gambling opportunities to boot. (Around £20,000 was bet on a series of games between Old Etonians and England in 1751!)
As London’s population grew, so did the nobility’s impatience with the crowds who gathered to watch them play. In pursuit of exclusivity, they decided to approach Thomas Lord, a bowler with White Conduit CC, and asked him to set up a new private ground.
An ambitious entrepreneur, Lord was encouraged by Lord Winchilsea to lease a ground on Dorset Fields in Marylebone – the site of the modern Dorset Square.
He staged his first match – Middlesex (with two of Berkshire and one of Kent) versus Essex (with two given men) – on 31st May 1787. Thus Marylebone Cricket Club was formed. A year later, it laid down a Code of Laws, requiring the wickets to be pitched 22 yards apart and detailing how players could be given out.
Its Laws were adopted throughout the game – and MCC today remains the custodian and arbiter of Laws relating to cricket around the world. After a short stay at Marylebone Bank, Regent’s Park, between 1811 and 1813, Lord’s moved to a new rural ground – previously the site of a duck pond – in St John’s Wood in 1814. It remains MCC’s home to this day.
The ground was soon a major success and attracted hordes of players and spectators – forcing Lord to build a Pavilion and refreshment stalls.
In 1805, the dukes and earls were keen to see their sons play cricket and so hired the ground for an Eton versus Harrow schools cricket match – the start of a world-famous, and on-going, tradition.
In 1825, when Thomas Lord was 70, he sold the ground to a Bank of England director, William Ward, for £5,000. Having provided the Marylebone Cricket Club with a ground for 38 years, Lord retired and then died seven years later – but his name lives on.
That same year (1825), the Pavilion – housing scorecards, records and trophies – was destroyed in a fire. Work commenced immediately on a replacement, which opened the following year.
At the time, the wicket was ‘prepared’ before a match by allowing sheep to come in and graze on the grass. However, the Club subsequently acquired its first mowing machine and appointed its first grounds man in 1864.
MCC’s role has continued to evolve in response to these changes.
Today, its key responsibilities include:
- Ensuring that Lord’s remains a ground which is world-class, as well as world-famous;
- Promoting cricket’s Laws and safeguarding its ‘Spirit’;
- Promoting cricket to young people, for the long-term good of the game;
- Helping to increase cricket’s international appeal – not least through its teams’ touring programmes; and
- Maintaining its position as the world’s most active cricket-playing club.
The MCC’s visit to Oman
Oman Cricket was proud to host MCC in the first leg of their tour to the Middle East, 3rd – 8th of February 2016. It was a momentous week which culminated with the glittering ceremony on the 8th of February, organized in the presence of the Minister of Heritage and Culture and Oman Cricket’s Patron-in-Chief His Highness Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said and Minister of Sports Affairs Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed Al Mardhouf Al Saadi.
This event had an added significance as it marked the final leg of preparations of the Oman national team, who are set to embark an historic tour of South Asia where they will take part in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and then make their debut in the ICC World T20.
The 15-man group, led by former Queensland batsman Clinton Perren, also included Warwickshire’s Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Derbyshire’s Shiv Thakor.
The tour consisted of 4 matches – including a floodlit 20-over match against the Oman national team on Monday 8th February. The MCC’s players also led a coaching clinic with 60 local children at the Boushar Cricket Academy in Oman at the start of the tour – which turned out to be hugely successful.
John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket commented about the trip stating that MCC had an excellent working relationship with both Oman. He also praised the standard of cricket in Oman and stated that it is improving rapidly.