Although Michael Colin Cowdrey played for the England national cricket team, he was born in India. His father named him such to provide him the same initials as that of the Marylebone Cricket Club. He was brought up in England.
Cowdrey is known as the youngest player to have played at the Lord’s cricket ground. In 1946, at the age of 13, he played for Tonbridge in a match against Clifton. Cowdrey scored 75 runs in his first innings and a 44 in his second. Cowdrey made his debut at first class cricket with Kent County Cricket Club in 1950 and played for them until his retirement in 1976. He also captained the Kent team in 1956 and then again in 1970 when he led his team to victory after 57 long years.
While playing first class cricket, Cowdrey appeared in 692 matches and scored 42,719 runs in total. He batted at an average of 42.89 and was also a fine bowler with an average of 51.21. Cowdrey appeared for a test match for the first time in 1954-55 for the Australia tour of New Zealand. The same season for The Boxing Day test match, he scored his first test century at Melbourne.
In 1959, Cowdrey was selected to captain his team in a test match between his home country (England) and his birth country (India). He went ahead to captain England in 27 test matches thereafter. He was not able to perform well as the captain and his men lost 4 the 27 test matches, won only 8 and the rest 15 ended in a draw.
Cowdrey played his final test match against Australia in 1974-75. His test cricket career lasted for 114 test matches accounting for 7,624 runs with a batting average of 44.06 and including 22 hundreds.
In 1986, following his retirement, Cowdrey was elected as the President of Marylebone Cricket Club. He was also the Chairman of the International Cricket Council from 1989 till 1993. In 2000, he became the President of the Kent County Cricket Club.
In 1972, Cowdrey was honored with a knighthood and became a life peer as the Baron Cowdrey of Tonbridge, thus becoming one of the only two cricketers having given this honor.
The cricket club in his hometown was renamed in his honor to Cowdrey Cricket Club in 1997.