Three members of the Marylebone Cricket Club have been suspended after an altercation with the Australian team. It happened after a controversy over a wicket during the second Ashes Test between England and Australia. What happened and why were the fans so angry?
The Marylebone Cricket Club is a 236 year old institution that resides at Lord’s cricket ground, known around the world as the ‘Home of Cricket’.
Its membership handbook says the “MCC expects that Members respect and support each other, the Club, Lord’s and all who visit or work there.”
That wasn’t the case on Sunday when England batsman Jonny Bairstow lost his wicket in highly controversial circumstances on the final day of the second Ashes Test against Australia.
As the ball was bowled, it went past him, through to the Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey. Bairstow thought that was the end of that passage of play. He thought that he was free to leave his crease. However, Carey didn’t think the passage of play was over – and as Bairstow left his crease, the Australian threw the ball at the stumps and the umpires ruled Bairstow was out.
Around half an hour later the players left the pitch for lunch and headed back to the pavilion where MCC members booed and jeered the Australian players. Some got into an altercation with the visiting side.
Later the MCC released a statement saying three of its members had been suspended, calling the incident “wholly unacceptable”.
But there is more to this than just members of an exclusive club acting up. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for English cricket.
The culture of the sport at all levels in England and Wales has come under scrutiny in the past couple of years, and last week saw the release of a landmark report into the culture of the game.
The 317-page report from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket received evidence from more than 4,000 players, coaches, administrators and fans.
It found racism was ‘entrenched’, women are marginalised, the sport is ‘elitist and exclusionary’, and “private school and ‘old boys’ networks’ and cliques permeate the game to the exclusion of many”.
The MCC is still the custodian of the laws of cricket. For this to happen in one of the sport’s most exclusive, and prestigious, settings is a bad look for English cricket as a whole.
Today’s episode was written and mixed by Imy Harper.