Gentlemen v Players to be revived

News has emerged this morning that the ECB are set to announce a comeback for the annual Gentlemen v Players match to mark 50 years since it was last played. An ECB insider has leaked information to the press about the proposed fixture, which will be revamped as a Twenty 20 game, complete with music and dancers, rather than the traditional three-day affair. The game looks set to be scheduled to coincide with the Olympics in order that, as the insider put it, ‘the rest of the world may see the noble origins of our sport and the role of the gentleman in the growth of British sporting dominance’.

Details are at this stage sketchy, but the unnamed source revealed that new criteria would have to be drawn up to decide who would eligible for the Gentlemen, given that relatively few county cricketers still identify themselves as such. Possible qualifications include having attended a British public school or Oxbridge or whether the family name is found in Debrett’s Peerage. While the game is at the moment only scheduled for a one-off return, the insider revealed that the ECB would carefully monitor the reception to the match and could once again make it an annual fixture.

The source also stated that, ‘Now, more than ever, there is a real appetite for a public display of rivalry between the working classes and the gentry. The ECB feel that making the game a T20 played under lights will allow fans and players alike to really get into the spirit of the fixture.’ The game would be played at Lord’s and would include the return of segregation of amateurs and professionals for added authenticity. The MCC are thought to be firmly behind the idea.

The first Gentlemen v Players game was played in 1806 and had become an almost annual fixture by the 1820s, before being played twice yearly from 1858. The last occurrence was in 1962.

Leaked documents also reveal that there are plans afoot for a revival of the One-Legged v One-Armed fixture, which was hugely popular in the mid 19th century, as well as a possible repeat of one of the ‘single-name’ matches, such as the 1931 game where eleven men named Smithers beat eleven men named Streatfield.

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