Founded in the 18th century, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in London is one of the world’s most recognized cricket clubs and the issuer of the Laws of Cricket.
From the early 1900s and onwards, the Marylebone Cricket Club organised the England cricket teams, and up to and including the 1976/1977 tour of Australia the England cricket team officially played as MCC (Test matches being the exception). Also, the England touring team could be seen wearing the distinctive scarlet and gold stripes of the Marylebone Cricket Club as late as the tour to New Zealand in 1996/1997.
The Marylebone Cricket Club has traditionally been the governing body of cricket in England and Wales, as well as for international competitions. In 1993, its English governance was transferred to the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB). At the same time, many of MCC:s global functions were passed to the International Cricket Council (ICC). The Marylebone Cricket Club does however still issue and maintain the Laws of Cricket.
During recent years, the International Cricket Council has strived to increase its sphere of influence and control over all aspects of cricket, including the issuing of cricket regulations. The council has for instance implemented their own Standard Playing Conditions for Test Matches and Standard Playing Conditions for One Day Internationals. Also, the various national cricket associations around the world has to a large extent implemented Playing Conditions for domestic cricket.
The Marylebone Cricket Club owns the Lord’s Cricket Ground in St John’s Wood, London.
At the time of writing, the Marylebone Cricket Club has 18,000 full members and 6,000 associate members. As a member, you are allowed to use the Pavilion and other stands at Lord’s Cricket Ground for all matches played there.
Women has been allowed as members of the Marylebone Cricket Club since the late 1990s. Up until then, the only women allowed to enter the Pavilion during play was the Queen and domestic staff.
When Marylebone Cricket Club was founded in 1787, it did not start from scratch but was a reconstitution of a much older cricket club based at the Star and Garter on Pall Mall. The origins of this older cricket club remains unknown, but it is believed to have been formed in the early 1700s or even prior to that. It was referred to by several names, including The Noblemen’s and Gentlemen’s Club and contained several different sporting clubs.
1787 was the year when Thomas Lord open a cricket ground on seven acres (28,000 m²) off Dorset Square. The year before, he had been approached by cricket enthusiasts George Finch (9th Earl of Winchilsea) and Charles Lennox (4th Duke of Richmond) who wanted Thomas Lord to find a private venue for the cricket club the three of them belonged to, the White Conduit Club.
The White Conduit Club had been formed by members of The Noblemen’s and Gentlemen’s Club in the early 1780s and regularly arranged cricket games at the White Conduit Fields in Islington. Several leading members of the club did however feel that the White Conduit Fields were too public, and this is why Thomas Lord, a professional bowler at the White Conduit, was given the task to secure a more private cricket venue for the club. After being guaranteed against any financial losses he might suffer, Lord purchased seven acres of land and turned it into a private cricket ground for the White Conduit Club. As soon as the club had moved to their new ground, the old club name was dropped in favour of the Mary-le-bone Club.
Laws of Cricket
The Marylebone Cricket Club is the issuer and copyright holder of the Laws of Cricket. The club issued its first Code of Laws in 1788. In this era, a lot of different and sometimes opposing cricket rules were circulating in the cricket world and it was essentially up to the individual teams to agree on the rules for a match. Eventually, the Marylebone Laws of Cricket gained wide acceptance in the cricket world, not just in England but around the globe as the game spread throughout the British empire.
Today, the Laws of Cricket consists of a preface, a preamble, 42 laws, and four appendices. The preface focuses on the history of the Marylebone Cricket Club and the history of the Laws of Cricket, while the preamble is a relatively new addition outlining “the Spirit of the Game”. The early versions of the Laws of Cricket used imperial units only, but modern versions include both imperial units and metric conversions.
Changes to the laws of cricket can only be made by the Marylebone Cricket Club. Any change must go through a two step process, where the first step is a resolution of the MCC committee (Rule 27). For the change to be accepted, it must then be passed by a majority vote at the next MCC Annual General Meeting (Rule 22.5).
MCC becomes an incorporated association
Until 2013, the Marylebone Cricket Club was a private members club and thus had the status of an unincorporated association. Since an unincorporated association can not own property, the club could not own the Lord’s Cricket Ground or the copyright to the Laws of Cricket in its own name. Also, individual members had potential liability for the clubs finances. In December 2012, the club was granted a Royal charter and as a result of this, the Marylebone Cricket Club is now an incorporated association.