Stephen Fry to deliver 'fan's perspective' in MCC Cowdrey lecture

Comedian will be second non-cricketer to deliver lecture, following Archbishop Tutu in 2008

George Dobell
George Dobell
Stephen Fry is an avid cricket fan  •  Getty Images

Stephen Fry is an avid cricket fan  •  Getty Images

The actor and presenter Stephen Fry is to deliver the Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's promising to represent the "the point of view of the fan".
Fry, who has played memorable roles in series such as Blackadder, Jeeves and Wooster and was one half of the comedy double-act Fry and Laurie alongside Hugh Laurie, is the 20th person to deliver the lecture but only the second non-cricketing personality, following Archbishop Desmond Tutu's contribution in 2008.
The lecture, which was previously known as the Spirit of Cricket Lecture, is named in memory of Lord Cowdrey of Tonbridge. The inaugural address was delivered in 2001 by Richie Benaud and past lecturers include Clive Lloyd, Imran Khan, Kumar Sangakkara and Mike Brearley. Fry's lecture, the first since 2019, will take place on November 16, a couple of days after the final of the T20 World Cup, and will be live streamed.
Sangakkara, now the MCC president, and Kate Cross, the England seamer, will form part of a panel discussion with Fry, which will be hosted by broadcaster Mark Nicholas and will follow the Lecture.
"At first glance it might seem one hell of a cheek for me, who has never bowled, fielded, caught or faced a first-class cricket ball in his life, to presume to lecture the cricket world on the spirit of their game," Fry said. "But I choose to interpret this invitation as an example of just how far cricket has come in recent years. It is embracing the one side of the sporting equation which is so often forgotten in all sports: the point of view of the fan, the lover, the amateur, the supporter. Sometimes the spectator really does see more of the game.
"I hope that I can also bring to bear some of my experience in the field of mental health to reflect on how cricket can reconcile the intense pressures of global and commercial growth with the needs, welfare and futures of the men and women who sustain it. This gig is the closest I will ever get to playing cricket for my country and I am ridiculously excited about it."
Fry, who is a former host of the the quiz show QI, is also a patron of the MCC Foundation and president of Mind, the mental health charity.
"Stephen has a deep and passionate love for cricket," Sangakkara said. "How his brilliant mind interprets its place and significance in his life personally and beyond, will make for a truly special Cowdrey Lecture. I am so grateful he has accepted our invitation and I am sure his delivery will be captivating and resonate with so many, inside and outside of cricket, while at the same time broadening the relevance and impact of the spirit of cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo