Club Cricket Conference

Thursday, 18th July 2019

Venerable table games go on view at Lord's

By Charles Randall

12 April 2016

The museum at Lord's is always worth a visit, and this summer will be no less fascinating. A new exhibition called  A Century of Cricket Games has been put together, with a collection of  20th Century board, card and dice games on view.

These indoor items include unique hand-made table games, prototypes and early edition commercial games. The examples have been drawn from the MCC's own collection, Victoria and Albert museum  and the Tunbridge Wells museum and art gallery, plus a number of items on loan from private collections.

The MCC say that the Lord's exhibition examines patterns in domestic play and consumer culture throughout the 20th Century.  For example the so-called Cass Family Board Game, created between the Wars, pre-dated a boom in mass-produced games. All the Cass components were modelled from common household items.

Many readers might remember playing Owzat in their time, but the game using letters of the alphabet as dots, scores or wickets, reading along lines from a book or newspaper, used to be popular.

A second phase of the MCC exhibition opens later this year, with a look at the development of cricket computer games.

Charlotte Goodhew, MCC collections manager, said: "It has been great to secure major loans from national collections and to collaborate with collectors and academics. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to understanding and interpreting our own collection."

The exhibition will stay in the MCC Museum until November 2017. Lord’s to host a games conference in January 2017, which will include a presentation from the National Football Museum.

The MCC museum can be visited as part of a Lord’s Tour or free of charge on all major match days to those with a match ticket.

The museum, opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953, is one of the oldest sporting museums in the world. Its collection, started in 1864, spans the full history of cricket from its emergence as a major sport in the early 18th century to the modern age of Twenty20 and the IPL. The MCC have assembled items relating to the great players and events and they have not ignored the grassroots and community cricket clubs.

The most famous exhibit is the original Ashes urn, a personal gift to England captain the Hon Ivo Bligh in 1882/83, later donated to MCC by his widow in 1928. ThenMCC say: "This tiny and fragile object, cricket’s most precious artefact, rarely leaves Lord’s. When it last did so, for the 2006/07 MCC Travelex Ashes Exhibition in Australia, more than 100,000 people came to see it."