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From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 29, Dated July 25, 2009
ICC: A Century of Cricket  
history & heritage

Cricket’s Inner Voice

Is there place for the game’s original custodians in the T20 world of today?

TONY LEWIS
MCC President

Womb sweet womb A capacity crowd at Lord's the birthplace of cricket

INTERNATIONAL CRICKET IS on a roller-coaster ride: cash is king, the sale of commercial rights is the essential succour; entertainment on-field must be spectacular, with all the trimmings of hard merchandising and corporate hospitality all embellished by hugely paid star players. Each national board of control attends the ICC to fight for its own agenda; many cannot resist deals made behind pillars and cram the programme with too many matches to balance the books. In this maelstrom of self-interest, and with so much money swilling around, doubts grow daily about the governance of the game

1960

THE FIRST TIE
A fascinating game between Australia and the West Indies at Brisbane

‘Quite apart from gaining a niche, this match will always be remembered because of its excellent cricket’
JOHN WISDEN

Cricket is largely run by groups of individuals who have never played quality cricket. Many can bring much to the table, but the ideal leaders for cricket should be players with excellent academic and professional abilities. Former ICC Presidents Colin Cowdrey and Clyde Walcott are excellent examples. Governing bodies seriously lack former players and tend to be nests of politicking and financial scheming

What role can there possibly be in 2009 for the Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787? As the all-encompassing role of the ICC grew, all the MCC believed necessary was to offer help and to continue its duty as custodians of the Laws. The Committee’s resolve, in 2000, was to be more robust in its work on the Laws, and the extra care and attention led to greater responsibility worldwide. Incorporated in the Laws is the control of equipment, the legality of bowling actions and sudden phenomena like the reverse sweep. Are bats becoming too thick? Are they composed of wood and cane alone? Such questions proliferate as the world game spins off in so many directions, especially through the smash and grab culture of T20 cricket.

The MCC immediately grew a partnership with Imperial College and made membership changes to its Laws sub-committee to ensure absolute expertise. The Committee, driven by John Stephenson, the MCC’s Head of Cricket, now includes the ICC’s Director of Cricket, David Richardson, an ICC elite umpire and an England and Wales Director of Cricket. The MCC believes that all leaders of policy should have played the game.

Recently, the ICC invited the MCC to be consultants in the trials of a Referral system. The Club complied and even helped with the cost and its work is having global impact again. New avenues of participation in the world game have opened - the IPL, launching their massive T20 programme, asked for permission to use the MCC’s Spirit of Cricket mantra. The banner now flies at all IPL matches.

Cricket’s governing bodies lack former players and tend to be nests of politicking and financial scheming

It soon became clear that many would welcome the return of the MCC to the tables that debated matters elevated far above the self-interest and mercenary minds of many of the game’s administrators. In 2006, the MCC World Cricket Committee was formed. It is a body made up of mostly of expert former cricketers who are currently involved in the game and includes Michael Atherton, Geoffrey Boycott, Courtney Walsh, Barry Richards, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Steve Waugh, CEO of Victoria Cricket Tony Dodemaide, Michael Tissera, Alec Stewart, Andy Flower, Martin Crowe, Shaun Pollock, Mike Gatting, Michael Brearley, David Shepherd, Majid Khan, and Director of ICC Cricket David Richardson, not only because he can bring so much to our discussions but more importantly, because he was a fine Test wicket-keeper for South Africa.

All these honorary volunteers declared that the MCC, free from politics should become, ‘The conscience of cricket’ and that the MCC should spread the true ‘Spirit of the Game’ and that Lord’s, through all it does, should live up to its fame as the home of cricket – the place where every Test cricketer who has ever breathed longs to represent his country and play his best.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 29, Dated July 25, 2009

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