Gender equality campaigners call on Lord’s to cancel men’s Varsity fixture

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The Stump Out Sexism (SOS) campaign has called upon Marylebone Cricket Club to revoke its traditional invitation to Oxford and Cambridge universities to play the men’s Varsity match at Lord’s, unless a women’s game is also included.

Replying to a request from the campaign to “step in” to find an “equitable solution” to a disagreement about gender parity in university cricket, the MCC chief executive, Guy Lavender, wrote in a letter on Friday that Lord’s would be “very happy to accommodate a men’s and women’s T20 double header on the same day next year” in response.

But he also suggested the dispute was “primarily a matter for [the] respective universities” and stopped short of committing to intervene to ensure the match came to fruition.

While that response has encouraged the organisers of the SOS campaign, who have noted they won more commitment from MCC in two days than they had from the universities’ cricket clubs in two-and-a-half years, they describe themselves as “not completely satisfied”.

They argue that MCC could go further and use their power as hosts to insist on gender parity. The men’s varsity match has been played (in various formats) at Lord’s for almost 200 years. The women’s match has never made it beyond the Nursery Ground and this year, with Lord’s undergoing a redevelopment, has not even made it that far.

Now, while expressing their appreciation for the MCC offer, the SOS campaign have called for a “further commitment to ensuring the Varsity fixture is equitable”.