Lord’s officials have urged members to buy pavilion tickets for Friday’s ICC Cricket World Cup game between Bangladesh and Pakistan after admitting just 50 per cent of seats have been allocated.

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) said scores of empty seats would be “damaging” for the London stadium’s “global reputation.”

The MCC committee has announced it will relax its age restrictions for the game and will be inviting 250 school-age children into the building.

When the 30,000-seat Lord’s is hosting a Test match, only members of MCC are permitted in the pavilion, with children under 12-years of age no allowed into the famous building. However, for all other matches, members of Middlesex and their opponents are also permitted in the pavilion, with the option to bring in two guests. The dress code in the pavilion is notoriously strict. Men are required to wear “ties and tailored coats and acceptable trousers with appropriate shoes” and women are required to wear “dresses; or skirts or trousers worn with blouses, and appropriate shoes”

During the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup final, the club received widespread criticism over its empty pavilion seats during England’s victory over India.

Guy Lavender, the MCC chief executive, wrote to members on Tuesday, according to the Guardian newspaper: “The latest tournament standings mean the outcome of [Bangladesh versus Pakistan] could prove crucial to England’s prospects of reaching the semi-finals. From this perspective, Friday’s match may yet prove to be one of the most decisive of the tournament. Unfortunately, and notwithstanding the context of the match, the Pavilion remains heavily undersubscribed.

“Members may recall the ICC Women’s World Cup final in 2017, when unfavourable comparisons were made between the number of members in the Pavilion and full stands in the rest of the ground. This is damaging to MCC’s global reputation and the committee is determined to avoid a repetition of these images on Friday.”

The 2019 World Cup is the first international tournament in which the MCC has charged its members for pavilion tickets, with Friday’s game passes price at £45.

Members, of which there are currently 18,000 full and 5,000 associate members of MCC, have shown up in numbers for the previous three group matches and the final on July 14 is already sold out.

On the presence of schoolchildren in the pavilion this Friday, Lavender added: “It is hoped [this] will both improve the appearance of the pavilion and provide the youngsters with a memorable and formative experience.”

Image: Ben Sutherland