THE CRYSTAL BALL
Anyone who has opened the bowling in a match staged at Lord’s will fear for the future of our great English Game when a 100 Ball hybrid is being created by the ECB and supported by the MCC.
Ever since the English Cricket Board (ECB) was spawned from the wreckage of the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB) the die was cast. A move from the administration of Cricket to a body responsible for the government of Cricket was a massive mistake in the absence of any Cricket Constitution being introduced. When Gubby Allen resigned from the Cricket Council, he voiced his own fears for the future of the English Game. His fears were well founded with Mammon now in charge of the Square at Lord’s.
In 1969 as a result of a Government edict, it was decreed that a private Members’ Club (MCC) could not be allowed to administrate and govern the national sport of Cricket. The Cricket Council and the administrative TCCB offshoot were spawned.
It was at the doomed 200th Anniversary AGM held at Lord’s on 6 May 1987 chaired by Colin Cowdrey CBE that the earthquake erupted and the hoarse voice of tumult was heard from the many hundreds of MCC Members outraged to learn their rights and privileges at Lord’s had been given away to the TCCB without their knowledge, consent or compensation, The TCCB hierarchy led by the Chairman Raman Subba Row had engineered a coup in which Colin Cowdrey the MCC President had been complicit in giving away Member rights for the staging of Big Matches at Lord’s. An article published by the Sunday Telegraph a few days in advance of the AGM announced in a back page article in a heavy print headline “Cuckoo in the Nest at Lord’s”. The cat was out of the bag and the Cuckoo is much bigger and fatter today.
Another five years passed before I was able to propose a Resolution at the MCC AGM of 1992 a Working Party given the task of sounding the death knell on the TCCB farce.
The Lord Hugh Griffiths MC was appointed as the Chairman, who considered Cricket to be “a most civilizing influence”. The Rugby celebrity Micky Steele-Bodger CBE was also included as an “outsider” being a non-member of the Club. and a great sportsman.
We reported to the MCC Committee in February 1994 and recommended the formation of a British Cricket Board of Control operating within the bounds of a “Cricket Constitution”. Lord Griffiths offered his services and those of his WP to draft such a Constitution. Nobody was better qualified to do so. The offer was refused and Dennis Silk whose Committee appointed this WP moved from his MCC Presidency to the Chairmanship TCCB continuing what had become known as the “two hat” syndrome at Lord’s. The conflicts of interest at Lord’s were (and still are) rife and some of us can still remember George Mann of Watney Mann fame and an MCC Committee member, being awarded the Catering Contract at Lord’s!
The Situation Today
Dennis Silk CBE had the influence and power to provide a long-lasting solution to the TCCB problem and the vacuum left by the impotent Cricket Council, but he failed to do so. The Lord Griffiths WP paid great attention to the multitude of enthusiastic supporters committed to the welfare of the amateur game at Club and Schools level. But for their love of the game and their freely given time and money, Cricket would never have flourished. His WP was anxious to ensure the vitality of this important part of the national sport of Cricket was preserved and nobody was better qualified than the MCC to take the responsibility of running the grass roots game in future. It was in 1995 at this important juncture that a golden opportunity of creating a Cricket Constitution as the Magna Carta of Cricket was lost – probably forever. The onward march of the malignant money-makers has placed the future of our national sport in peril. It is time for Prometheus from within the MCC to resist the onward march of Mammon.
As the MCC flounders, it has become a Royal Charter Corporation without proper governance or purpose. The time has come to throw off the suffocating cloak of ECB enslavement if the Club is ever to re-establish itself as the champion of our national game financing and supporting at grass roots level a nursery that delivers world-class cricketers. No longer should the MCC tolerate the blackmail threatened by the ECB to remove Test Cricket from Lord’s but make it the permanent Elysian Field – the perfect Cricket paradise for the preservation of the amateur game we claim to love and cherish at Lord’s. The “Spirit of Cricket” lies not within the money markets but within the soul of the MCC.
Nigel J Knott (Dr)
Elected Playing MCC Member1966
Appointed by MCC Committee to 6 Working Parties 1992- 2015