how to join the MCC

The fantasy of every cricket lover is to sit in the pavilion at Lords and watch an international Test match. While it may not be too difficult to obtain a ticket for a match at Lords, the sanctuary of the pavilion, in addition to a plethora of other privileges, is only available to members of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

MCC members presently number around 20,000, making up one of the most influential and exclusive clubs in the country. Members receive preferential treatment, with regard to ticket allocation, plus exclusive entry to the Lords pavilion and the opportunity to purchase items with the MCC motif. Even without benefits, MCC membership would still be keenly sought after.

There are two types of candidature for membership: "Ordinary" and "Playing", with all candidates having to be at least 16 to be nominated. Anyone wishing to be nominated for membership must be proposed, seconded and sponsored by full/senior members. At the preliminary nomination stage, four such members are required.

Many aspiring candidates may be attracted to Playing Membership, which can be awarded in a fraction of the time required for Ordinary Membership. Moreover, cricketing "talent" is the main consideration. This kind of membership does have one drawback, insofar as it is only valid for a limited period of time. Nevertheless, Playing Members enjoy the same rights and privileges as their Ordinary counterparts.

Applying Playing Members do not have to pay the registration fee but should play cricket to a good first eleven standard (making 50 runs for the local village team doesn't qualify) and be under the age of 40.

If accepted, you will be asked to play a minimum of 10 matches for the MCC, in two consecutive seasons. If your performances are deemed "acceptable" to the Committee, your election to the club may be brought forward. Unfortunately, failure to perform successfully may result in the secession of MCC Playing Membership.

All Ordinary candidates must pay a fee of pounds 79 before their names can be entered into the club's books. The MCC attracts applicants from all over the globe and from many walks of life; Tim Rice, Mick Jagger and Paul Getty are just a few of its celebrity members.

For any cricket lover there is simply no better place to watch the game. "Some members use the club as a place of social kudos," explains one member. "For myself, you cannot beat going into one of the bars in the pavilion and watching someone like Viv Richards smash the ball around the field. There's no place like it."

Here are a few tips that may aid those wishing to join:

Apply immediately: the waiting period for Ordinary Membership is currently around 20 years. If you apply now your membership may be accepted around the time England next win a Test series.

Become Prime Minister: if you manage to obtain a job running the country your application may be speeded through; it worked for MCC member John Major.

Become the greatest run scorer in Test history: the MCC sometimes award membership for outstanding contributions to the game, as with Indian cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar. Unfortunately his record-breaking feats had not come to the attention of one hapless steward at Lords who famously refused him entry.

Make certain you are male: despite the endeavours of many MCC members, entry is currently available to only half the human race.

ALISTER MORGAN

Marylebone Cricket Club (0171-289 8979)

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