The image used to be one of English cricket, and as a consequence, cricket across the whole British Empire, being ruled from the longroom of the Lord's pavilion by elderly gentlemen in funny striped suits and public school visions of amateur sportsmanship. The administration of sport has changed hands and become more corporate and professional (although perhaps not improved so much as we would like).
The MCC still has a number of clearly defined roles in the game, most notable as custodian as of the rules of cricket, traditionally and officially called its "Laws". It has an extensive development network through its Cricket Academy, its Young Cricketers program, and its many domestic and international tours. MCC teams play around 500 matches each year (there's a team in Argentina right now). Their traditional season-opening first-class fixture against the previous season's champion county has been outposted to Abu Dhabi since 2010 and used as a testbed for various experiments, notably day-night play.
And - although legal pressure may have pushed this along initially - women have been eligible for membership since 1999, with an MCC women's team being established and playing regularly in subsequent years.
Alongside the annual "Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture", one of the higher profile innovations by the MCC in recent years was the establishment in 2006 of its "World Cricket Committee". An independent think tank of past and present players and umpires, the MCC World Cricket Committee may seem like a rival to the ICC's Cricket Committee but has no power to make formal recommendations.
Currently the World Cricket Committee is chaired by Mike Brearley, who took over from another former England captain and MCC stalwart Tony Lewis in that role in 2011. Perhaps disappointingly, Steve Bucknor is the only umpire on the committee, although David Shepherd was a member prior to his death in 2009. Charlotte Edwards became the first woman on the committee just last year. There's room for more.
Nonetheless, the current makeup of the committee contains a wide range of playing experience. As at last week's meeting in Dunedin it consisted of: Mike Brearley (Chairman), Jimmy Adams, Mike Atherton, Geoffrey Boycott, Steve Bucknor, Martin Crowe, Rahul Dravid, Charlotte Edwards, Majid Khan, Anil Kumble, Rod Marsh, Shaun Pollock, Barry Richards, Dave Richardson, Kumar Sangakkara, Michael Vaughan, Steve Waugh.
Perhaps most pleasing about the composition of the committee is the lack of that odious category of ex-player turned television commentator. Atherton and Boycott are the only two with extensive media involvement these days, and their places are fully justified. Richardson is present in his capacity as former South African wicketkeeper, not as CEO of the ICC. Martin Crowe is stepping down from the committee due to ill health.
The MCC's World Cricket Committee meets twice a year, once at Lord's and once on the road. In February 2013 they met in Dunedin to coincide with England's tour of New Zealand, and I'll dissect the outcomes of that meeting in my next item.
Lots more information about the MCC World Cricket Committee can be found on the Lord's website.