KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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MCC are hosting a joint pre-season training camp for MCC Young Cricketers and a combined MCC Universities side in Abu Dhabi from 15-25 March.
The two sides will play a mix of Twenty20, 50-over and three-day cricket against each other and the UAE second XI at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The three-day fixture will be played as a day-night match with a pink ball as part of MCC’s ongoing portfolio of research into the viability of floodlight Test cricket.
It proceeds the MCC v Nottinghamshire Champion County match, which starts in the same venue on 27 March.
The teams will also play an experimental game of 5IVES cricket to follow on from an initial trial at the end of last season.
The MCC Universities side has been selected based on performances throughout the 2010 season and recommendations from coaches at the six academies.
It also offers a first opportunity for the 2011 MCC YCs to play together after Head Coach Mark Alleyne named his 16-man squad for the summer.
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson highlighted the tour as serving two important purposes.
"The primary purpose of the tour is to provide a high-class pre-season training experience for the players, which fits in with one of MCC’s key objectives to provide a pathway into the professional game for talented young cricketers." said the former England cricketer.
"The opportunity to play cricket in other parts of the world is a central focus of MCC’s involvement in youth cricket, and I am delighted that we are able to accommodate this through our ongoing relationship with Abu Dhabi CC.
"The tour also provides an opportunity for MCC to flex its research arm, by further trialling 5IVES cricket as an alternative format of the game, and continuing research into the use of a pink ball under floodlights."
While Alleyne will get a first chance to look at his choices for this summer, his predecessor as MCC Head Coach, Clive Radley will lead the Universities side.
Both teams play in the ECB Second XI Championship and had comparatively successful campaigns in 2010.
Alleyne and Radley will view the experience as a valuable bonding and training exercise for their charges with the new season just around the corner.
Alleyne in convinced the Abu Dhabi trip will ensure his side are ahead of the game for the start of the English season.
"The chance for the YCs to prepare for the season at an international ground with fantastic facilities is normally reserved for Lord’s, but the opportunity train in Abu Dhabi is going to be a real energiser for the lads.
"The experience of playing and practicing in the Emirates will set them up beautifully for the season."
MCC has a three-year agreement with Abu Dhabi CC, signed in November 2009, enabling MCC to use the Zayed international cricket stadium and the MCC Zayed Cricket Academy in Abu Dhabi.