Mark Nicholas in line to become MCC chairman after presidency

Mark Nicholas at Lord's
Mark Nicholas, photographed in the Lord's pavilion alongside a portrait of his great friend and fellow former Hampshire captain, Shane Warne, will chair MCC for three years from October 2024 - Jed Leicester/Shutterstock

MCC president Mark Nicholas is in line to become the club’s next chairman after emerging as the committee’s choice to put to the membership for approval.

The club’s AGM takes place on May 1 and, if confirmed, he will succeed Bruce Carnegie-Brown, who did not seek re-election, from October on a three-year term in the unpaid role.

Nicholas’s current role of president is highly visible but largely ceremonial, whereas the chairman guides the club’s overall direction in conjunction with the chief executive, Guy Lavender.

The 66-year-old would be the first former professional cricketer to become chairman, and, given his keen indication in the direction of travel in the game and franchise cricket, his nomination may be a nod to MCC’s future ownership of the Lord’s-based London Spirit in the Hundred.

Under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s current plans, the host venue for each of the eight Hundred teams would be handed a share of around 51 per cent to keep, or sell to investors.

However, the process to replace Carnegie-Brown as chairman has been fractious, which is emblematic of MCC’s recent history.

On March 4, the club held a special general meeting after members requisitioned the committee with their concerns over the system by which the new chairman would be appointed. They called for a process that was “fully democratic”, rather than the committee putting forward a name for members to approve at the AGM. Of the 6,054 votes, 43 per cent (2,598) were in favour of the change, which fell short of the majority required, but did lead to reflection from the committee about its relationship with the membership.

“Any SGM is an important moment for the Club and it is appropriate that the Committee reflects on the circumstances that have brought it about,” Carnegie-Brown told members. “Although the Resolution was not passed, we recognise the concerns that many Members have about the level of involvement the membership has in determining how their views are represented within our governance structure.”

Carnegie-Brown had opted not to stand for another term as chairman after it emerged that a group of members would look to oust him this year. MCC and its members have, at times, had a difficult relationship in recent years, over matters such as the future of historic fixtures such as Eton v Harrow, a gaffe Carnegie-Brown made at a meeting in 2022.

“I expect they are taking an age to empty their colostomy bags,” he said, believing his microphone to be turned off, as members returned from a break in the meeting. Carnegie-Brown offered his resignation, but that was rejected by the committee, with a formal disciplinary following. He was handed a six-month suspension, with the punishment suspended for two years, and made a “significant personal donation” to the charity Colostomy UK.

Having been an MCC member since 1981, Nicholas succeeded the actor, broadcaster and writer Stephen Fry as president last October on a one-year term, which makes him a somewhat surprising choice to become chairman immediately afterwards, although it is not without precedent.

The position of MCC chairman has existed since 2000, and Nicholas would be the third of the seven men to hold the role to have been the club’s president immediately before. The others were the Rt. Hon. the Lord Alexander of Weedon, who was chairman from 2001 to 2004, and Charles Fry, who was chairman from 2004 to 2009. The president of the club has no input in appointing the chairman.

Nicholas was a first-class cricketer for Hampshire for 17 years from 1978 to 1995, also captaining England A, before moving into the media. There he became the face of the iconic 2005 Ashes with Channel 4, and also worked extensively in Australia with Channel 9 and South Africa with Supersport as well as a columnist for The Telegraph.

Nicholas has thrown himself into the presidency with vim, setting up World Cricket Connects, “a forum designed for the leading voices in the game to discuss the health of cricket, and consider the path required for its future success”. It will take place at Lord’s in July. Nicholas has also been involved in revamping the Cowdrey “Spirit of Cricket” Lecture, which will be given by the cast of the popular podcast Tailenders – James Anderson, musician Felix White and broadcaster Greg James – in conjunction with former England bowlers Stuart Broad and Isa Guha at Lord’s this Thursday.

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