What is the Spirit of Cricket Lecture?
Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge, aka Colin Cowdrey, was, with Ted Dexter, one of the driving forces behind the inclusion of the Spirit of Cricket as a preamble to the 2000 Code of the Laws of Cricket. Following Cowdrey's death in December that year, the MCC instituted an annual lecture in his name. The occasion serves as a public forum where cricketers - mostly former - or eminent personalities put forward ideas on the game for discussion.
When is the lecture usually delivered?
The lecture series began in 2001, and is held every year at Lord's during the cricket season, usually in June.
Who have been the past speakers?
Richie Benaud delivered the first Cowdrey Lecture to mark the Spirit of Cricket Day, which kicked off a campaign by MCC to encourage fair play in cricket around the world. Since then, Barry Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Clive Lloyd, Geoffrey Boycott, Martin Crowe, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have been the speakers at the annual event, in that order.
What they said
Gavaskar: "Out of a possible 150 Test cricketers from ten Test-playing countries, there are perhaps not even 15 who indulge in [this] verbal abuse and intimidation, but unfortunately most of these belong to a champion side and it makes others believe that it's the only way to play winning cricket."
Crowe: "...Having been pinned in the head by 'chuckers' over 15 years, having been dubiously bowled first ball in a Test by a certain Sri Lankan bowler, having tried to bowl a decent ball myself with a straight arm, I've had more than enough of this aspect of the game. I'm sorry, but this is cricket's Achilles heel."
Martin-Jenkins: "When a batsman is bowled, he walks; when a batsman hits the ball in the air to mid-off and is caught, he walks ... But when a batsman snicks it into the keeper's gloves only - and not into a fielder's hands - he doesn't walk, in the hope that the umpire might not be certain. Again, when he snicks it off the inside edge via his pad to short leg and is caught, generally speaking these days, he doesn't walk either, for the same reason. Where is the logic, or the honour in that?"
Tutu: "I would say it is a non-violent pressure that can be brought to bear. People will say Mugabe doesn't play cricket, but the more you make him aware that he has become a pariah, the better."