MCC president stirs up trouble

Marlar outraged at women playing with the men

Cricinfo staff

October 3, 2005

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Holly Colvin: Brighton College 1st XI next summer ... but she has already played a Test for England © Getty Images
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The appointment of Robin Marlar as the MCC president for the coming year always had the potential to be something of a banana skin for the club, but even his critics must have been surprised that he managed to make the front page of a national newspaper less than 24 hours after taking office.

Marlar, who, in a journalistic career of more than 40 years has never shied away from speaking his mind, warranted the second lead story in the weekend's Sunday Telegraph with a comment he made about women's cricket.

With reference to comments made to Cricinfo last week by Clare Connor, England's captain, that two schoolgirls (Sarah Taylor and Holly Colvin) would be in the Brighton College 1st XI next summer, Marlar leapt off the fence. "Girls! I think it's absolutely outrageous.

"The MCC's view is that mixed cricket at adult level doesn't happen. If there's an 18-year-old fast bowler who can bowl at 80mph and he's been brought up properly then he shouldn't want to hurt a lady at any cost." , Marlar was then asked what if a girl could bows at 80mph? "Then, I'd be asking some serious questions about whether she's had a sex change.

"There is a terrific difference between social and competitive cricket," he added. "Fred Trueman knocked me around when I batted against him at the age of 17. I do not see many men playing in women's league football."

The MCC has done much to shed its image as being a home for old-fashioned and male-chauvinistic octogenarians, but Marlar's comments will hardly help.

Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, the first woman member of MCC's committee, sprung to Marlar's defence. "Robin is just being a gentleman," he said. "He just has some anxieties about a girl playing in a match which is reaching a tense conclusion and worrying if a male bowler will stick in a short ball."

But John Spencer, the master in charge of cricket at Brighton College and, like Marlar, a former Sussex player, disagreed. "Robin's comments are outdated because there are laws of sex discrimination in place now," he told The Times. "Girls are attracted to Brighton College because they know they will be given a fair deal. I have tried to be careful over selection when the opposition have had a very fast bowler, like Dulwich College did this summer. But the school believes in equal opportunities and I know of one or two other schools who include girls in their first XI."

The MCC press office better brace itself. This is unlikely to be the last time that Marlar will speak his mind.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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