MCC appoints new supremo January 31, 2006

Will Bradshaw make a stand?

Fred Rea

Keith Bradshaw takes over a traditional club with a modern outlook © Splod
Keith Bradshaw, the former Tasmanian batsman, will succeed Roger Knight in one of the most distinguished roles in cricket administration.

He will become only the 14th man to be secretary of MCC (the title of chief executive was only added recently) since 1822. Previous incumbents have tended to stay in the job until retirement, so at the age of 42, Bradshaw should have ample time to leave his mark on affairs at Lords.

Little is known of him in England. His playing career was unspectacular, amounting to 25 first-class matches for Tasmania 1984-1988 and a season with Sussex during which he did not make a first-team appearance. His commercial career with PriceWaterhouse and Deloitte will have stood him in good stead for running a club with an annual turnover of over £23 million. The business of MCC has mushroomed from a turnover of around £1 million in 1981, during a time when the club's influence on governing world cricket has diminished to little more than being custodians of the Laws.

MCC still has a vital role to play, spreading the word of cricket worldwide though its many overseas tours which compliment the 500 or so club matches it plays each year in Britain. As owner of Lord's, MCC is responsible for the fabric of the `"Home of Cricket" and in recent years Lord's has become an icon among sporting venues for the 21st century. MCC has managed to retain much of its tradition while embracing technological advances and providing excellent accommodation for players, spectators and, most recently, the media.

Bradshaw will have to maintain these high standards if he is to resist the inevitable muttering that will follow news of the appointment of an Australian to the top job in a place where Anglo-Australian sporting rivalry is the major theme.

There are good omens. Australian Tony Dodemaide was highly regarded in his time running MCC's cricket affairs before becoming chief executive at the WACA last year. Gubby Allen was born in Sydney and went on to serve MCC for over 60 years in many roles.

Perhaps Bradshaw's lucky omen will be that he was born on 2 October 1963, the day that would have been Sir Pelham Warner's 90th birthday. It is a strange coincidence that MCC should choose 30 January, the anniversary of Warner's death, to announce the appointment of their new man.

Allen and Warner both have stands named after them at Lord's. The new arrival will truly have made his mark if future generations of cricket watchers ever sit in the Bradshaw Stand.