Eton-Harrow and Oxford-Cambridge matches to stay at Lord's until 2027

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MCC, which owns the home of cricket, announced last year that the annual matches would be removed from its calendar but that was met with a robust response from some elements of its membership. Stephen Fry, in his capacity as MCC president, spoke in support of the changes and said they would help challenge a "turgid image of snobbery and elitism" but both were played in 2022 amid the threat of a special general meeting and a damaging split. A consultation of members was subsequently conducted and the executive have now resolved to guarantee the fixtures, which date back to 1805 and 1827 respectively, until 2027. At that stage a further review will be held, with the prospect of a formal vote over the matter to follow. It had been argued that the dates given over to two private schools and varsity matches might be used more meritocratically, to host the finals of open tournaments available to all comers. As part of the new arrangement, organisers of such competitions will be invited to stage their showpiece games at Lord's from 2024 onwards. That means a marginal increase on active playing days at the main ground, up from 60 to 62, which could further squeeze the work of groundstaff as they attempt to provide the best possible pitches for international and domestic cricket at the famous venue. Archie Berens, representing the historic fixture group which had protested against the initial decision, said: "Everyone involved deserves credit for coming to a pragmatic solution that works for everyone and looks to heal the rifts in the club. "By reaching this outcome, honour is done to both sides. History is more important to Lord's than it is to probably any other cricket ground in the world." MCC chief executive Guy Lavender, meanwhile, suggested the issue had been deferred more than settled outright. "The world is changing quickly and cricket is changing quickly as a sport," he said. "The members' survey showed us a strong polarisation of views across the membership. It had become a divisive issue. We will take stock of our membership in four years' time and see that the world looks like then."

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