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April 12, 2010
MCC will sponsor an international contest for the first time with the Twenty20 and Test series between Australia and Pakistan being played under their Spirit of Cricket branding.
The neutral series is being staged in England to aid Pakistan who can't play matches at home due to the security situation with Twenty20 games at Edgbaston and Tests at Lord's and Headingley.
"MCC is committed to the health of Test cricket, and by sponsoring the series and hosting the first Test, the club is supporting Pakistani cricket at a time when the country's Test calendar has been decimated," said Keith Bradshaw, the MCC chief executive. "We often speak about Tests being the pinnacle of the game - and we're now acting to back up those words.
"I believe that the club is breaking new ground in cricket by sponsoring two such exciting sides in both Test and Twenty20 formats with a not-for-profit campaign, aimed at improving awareness of the game's cherished spirit and spreading that message as far and as wide as possible."
"It is a very historic moment for PCB to enter into a unique relationship with MCC as sponsors of the Pakistan-Australia series," said Ijaz Butt, the Pakistan chairman. The club has come forward to support this series wholeheartedly which speaks of their commitment towards cricket. I am hopeful that this relationship will further strengthen the ties between PCB and MCC."
Zakir Khan, the PCB's director of cricket operations, said that the ultimate aim was for international cricket to return to Pakistan. "It's very unfortunate that we haven't played Test cricket for 14 months," he said. "The passion is still there and we have a lot of youngsters coming up. We're sustaining our domestic competitions and have a good four-day structure which is standing us in good stead. It's unfortunate we're not playing at home but hopefully the situation will improve and we'll see Test cricket in Pakistan very soon."
MCC are also adding to their historic honours boards which are currently in the home and away dressing rooms at Lord's to commemorate hundreds and five-wicket hauls. The club are now going to add a neutral honours board in the away dressing room to include achievements in matches such as the Australia-Pakistan series.
In 1912 Charles Kelleway and Warren Bardsley scored centuries for Australia against South Africa in the last neutral Test held at the ground. They will be the first two names on the new neutral batting board.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth