Eton v Harrow at Lord's

Eton v Harrow match should be moved from Lord’s, says new MCC president Mark Nicholas

Eton v Harrow at Lord'sThe fixture between Eton and Harrow, two of England’s most prestigious private schools, has been held annually at Lord’s since 1805

The annual Eton versus Harrow school match should move away from Lord’s to ensure cricket remains “relevant”, says new MCC president Mark Nicholas.

Moving the match from Lord’s was one of the recommendations in the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report into the state of the game.

The fixture is currently set to remain at the ground until at least 2027.

“The world changes, responsibilities change,” Nicholas told The Times.external-link

“I love the traditions, but it has to remain relevant, and that fixture is not as relevant as it was, and I think there will come a time when the headmasters of both schools agree that they’ve moved on from it too, and then there will be a natural shift away from it having to be played here.”

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The Eton versus Harrow match and the university fixture between Cambridge and Oxford have been played at Lord’s since the early 19th century.

However, these contests between the prestigious educational establishments have become divisive at the MCC – Marylebone Cricket Club – which owns the London venue.

A decision last year by the club’s executive to relocate the fixtures sparked a protest from some MCC members and a compromise was reached, before a review and a possible vote.

Moving both fixtures was among 44 recommendations in the ICEC report, published in June, which said that racism, sexism, classism and elitism are “widespread” in the game in England and Wales.

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Broadcaster and former Hampshire captain Nicholas, who succeeded actor Stephen Fry as MCC president on Sunday, says moving the match could help make cricket more inclusive.

“We don’t get large crowds for it, we get virtually no crowd for the Eton-Harrow fixture, except of the boys and some of the old boys, but we are talking maximum 3,000 or 4,000. I have three stepsons who all went to Eton, who don’t think there is any case for the game being played at Lord’s, not at all,” said the 65-year-old.

“I stand for the club but also my own beliefs. We have to look at giving space and time to younger members and certainly to extend the playing part of the club further for girls and women.”

Though the post of MCC president is an honorary position, rotated on an annual basis, those who hold the role can exert influence over issues in the game.

Previous MCC presidents include former England international Clare Connor, former Sri Lanka batter Kumar Sangakkara, and former journalist and BBC Test Match Special commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins.