MCC Memories: 1984 Champion County Match


Wednesday 25 March was supposed to be Day Two of the Champion County match between the MCC and Essex out in Sri Lanka. However, due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the 2020 cricket season has been delayed until at least May 28, with the traditional season curtain-raiser being cancelled in the process.

To mark what should have been the start of our 2020 campaign, we take a look back at some of our previous Champion County matches, starting with the fixture at Lord’s in 1984.

Fixture: MCC v Essex
Date: Wednesday 25 April – Friday 27 April 1984
Venue: Lord’s
Result: MCC won by 67 runs

MCC: C. Smith, A. Lloyd, M. Nicholas, D. Gower, M. Gatting, C. Cowdrey, R. Williams, P. Downton, N. Williams, N. Cook and N. Cowans.

Essex: G. Gooch, C. Gladwin, K. Fletcher, K.McEwan, B. Hardie, D. Pringle, S. Turner, D. East, N. Foster, J. Lever and D. Acfield.

Match Report:

In glorious weather and in front of fair-sized crowds on all three days, the economical bowling produced by the Essex attack in the first innings made run-scoring difficult.

Only Mark Nicholas played with any freedom and batted fluently on a pitch giving generous help to the medium-pacers. The Hampshire batsman was well rewarded for his application with the highest score of the MCC first innings. John Lever was the most effective member of the Essex attack with 3 for 33 from his 19 overs.

MCC skipper David Gower enterprisingly declared on 235-6 overnight and by lunch, Essex had reached 128-2, with Chris Gladwin (16) and Captain Keith Fletcher (5) the only losses. Graham Gooch and Ken McEwan, showing good early season form, batted spiritedly but with their departures, it became a struggle for the Essex side, who were eventually all out for 210.

By the close of play, MCC had reached 118-3, having once been 45-3. Worryingly for Essex was the injury to Fletcher, who had trod on the ball and suffered a sprained ankle. He was unable to play any further part in the contest and was also forced to miss the next two Championship matches.

Thanks to the profligacy of the Essex fielding, Warwickshire batsman Andy Lloyd, having scored a watchful 60 in his first trip to the middle, completed a century courtesy of three dropped catches, and Gower eventually declared top Essex 241 for victory with 4 hours at their disposal.

The County’s hopes though were soon scuppered. In only the 6th over of the innings, Middlesex fast bowler, Neil Williams (who later in his career played for Essex between 1995-98), took the wickets of Gooch, David East and McEwan to leave the Essex challenge in disarray at 15-3.

Gladwin and Brian Hardie posted a partnership of 62 to temporarily frustrate MCC’s hopes, but the departures of both batsmen before the total moved into three figures handed the initiative firmly to Gower’s side.

Neil Foster and John Lever put on 52 for the 8th wicket until Lever was caught off the bowling of spinner Nick Cook. Foster continued to carve and drive freely and deposited a ball from spinner Chris Smith on to the top tier of the Lord’s Pavilion.

However, when last man David Acfield became Cook’s third victim of the innings, MCC completed victory by 67 runs.

MCC: 235-6 declared – M. Nicholas 76*, A. Lloyd 60, C. Smith 43 & 215-3 declared – A. Lloyd 102*, M. Gatting 75*.

Essex: 210 – G. Gooch 78, K. McEwan 70, N.Williams 4-55 & 173 – C..Gladwin 43, N. Foster 41*, J. Lever 37, B. Hardie 31.