British actor Stephen Fry will deliver the 2021 MCC Cowdrey Lecture at the Lord’s Cricket Ground on November 16. Fry has been a lifelong cricket supporter and patron of the MCC Foundation. The lecture will take place two days after the final of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai.
Fry is best known as an award-winning and renowned actor, host and presenter. He is also a bestselling author, with works including four novels and three volumes of autobiography. Fry is also an advocate for mental health and is president of Mind, the mental health charity.
“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. 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,” said Fry in a statement on Thursday.
The prestigious lecture, which embodies the Spirit of Cricket, is making a return after a hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fry will be the 20th speaker and the second non-cricketing personality to deliver the oration, following Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s address in 2008.
“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,” added Fry.
Fry will also take part in a panel discussion with MCC president Kumar Sangakkara and England pacer Kate Cross to be hosted by broadcaster Mark Nicholas and will follow the Lecture.
“Stephen has a deep and passionate love for cricket. 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,” said Sangakkara.
The MCC Cowdrey Lecture has become an annual highlight in the cricketing calendar, provoking debate and discussion of the major issues facing the game today. The event is named after Lord Colin Cowdrey, the former England captain who is credited with initiating the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ — an outline for fair play that was later officially added as a preamble to the Laws of Cricket.
After Lord Cowdrey passed away in December 2000, the Cowdrey Lecture was initiated in his memory. The first lecture took place in 2001 and was delivered by the former Australian captain Richie Benaud. The event will be livestreamed via the YouTube and Facebook channels of Lord’s.