Cricket-Lord's to continue hosting historic fixtures in compromise deal

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LONDON (Reuters) - Lord's will host the annual Eton v Harrow school match and Oxford v Cambridge university fixture for at least five more years as a compromise after Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members opposed plans to play them elsewhere.

The match between Eton and Harrow, two of the country's oldest elite private schools, has been played at Lord's since 1805 while the clash between the university rivals dates back to 1827.

The club's executive decided last year to end the tradition in favour of more inclusive finals of boys' and girls' school competitions but the plan divided the membership.

The MCC said on Wednesday it had agreed an extension from 2024 with the future of the fixtures to be reviewed in 2027 and a possible vote in 2028.

It said the club would also be inviting "the organisers of competitions open to boys and girls from all schools and young men and women from all universities to host the finals of their tournaments at Lord’s on an annual basis, beginning in 2024."

MCC chair Bruce Carnegie-Brown said the announcement "demonstrates that we are listening to our members who want us to play our part in making cricket a game for all and to respect our history and traditions."

MCC president Stephen Fry had backed the removal of the matches.

"My urging for MCC members is: If you really love cricket, don't you want more kids to play? Don't you want it to lose that image that it sometimes still has -- a turgid image of snobbery and elitism?," he told the Times newspaper last year.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Angus MacSwan)