Cricket began as an elitist sport, as entertainment for noblemen who placed bets on the results of games.

Although Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), now based at Lord's, was founded in 1787, women have only been accepted as members since 2003.

Now, around 3,000 women have been granted the same status as men at the home of cricket - with access to the Long Room, Pavilion and designated members' only seats within the ground.

This, I found as I joined a guided tour round the ground led by Keith Hatfield, is just one of the ways in which Lord's has made the game more modern.

Lord's began life when Thomas Lord was asked by a group of noblemen to set up a private ground for the game of cricket. He did so on the site of Dorset Fields, in Marylebone, which is now Dorset Square.

The first game was held between Middlesex and Essex on May 31, 1787, and the MCC was formed. The ground was moved to its familiar St John's Wood home in 1814, when hordes of players and spectators forced Mr Lord to construct a pavilion and refreshment stands.

Modern standards quickly developed at the club and, by 1864, a sheep which had been used to keep the grass trimmed was replaced by a machine and a groundsman was appointed.

Now, the ground at Lord's is spectacular, with a capacity of 30,000 seats and plans to accommodate as many as 10,000 more in the next three years.

Players have to battle their way from the dressing room through up to 300 MCC members gathered in the Long Room to get onto the pitch, as Keith told us.

"The laws of cricket, which are administered at Lord's, used to say that a batsman had two minutes to get onto the pitch to face a ball after the last batsman was dismissed, or he would be out," Keith explained.

"But two years ago, a player couldn't make his way through the crowd quickly enough, and would have been out if the opposing team had not overturned the ruling."

The time to get to the pitch was extended to three minutes, for players across the country, purely based on the law laid down at Lord's.

Some laws remain unchanged including no jeans or trainers allowed in members' areas. I'm also disappointed to find that people can apply to become members from the age of 16, yet typically wait around 19 years before learning whether they have been accepted.

While cricket remains a traditionally British sport, I'm pleased to see some of the rules are slowly being relaxed at Lord's.

For more information about tours of the ground, see