KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Eighteen players with strong links to MCC will form the large part of the 29-man Unicorns squad - which will take part in the 2011 Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
Twelve of the squad are MCC University (MCCU) students or graduates whilst six more are former MCC Young Cricketers (YCs) - including 2010 'YC' Ned Eckersley.
Six current MCCU students will juggle studying with representing the Unicorns this summer.
The Unicorns side was formed in 2010 to give talented cricketers, without full county contracts, the chance to play in the CB40.
Their debut season was largely considered a success as they claimed three county scalps - including a six-wicket win over Sussex.
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson was delighted at the number of MCC players getting a further opportunity to impress at a high level.
He said:"It is excellent news that the MCCUs and YCs are operating as such fertile feeder avenues for the Unicorns and I very much hope that these links will continue to strengthen in the future.
"Similar to the aims of MCC, to develop young cricketing talent through the MCCUs and YCs schemes, the Unicorns side provides a further opportunity for aspiring players to make the step into first-class cricket, whilst giving them the support and confidence necessary to compete at this level."
Second chance for Benham
Former Hampshire batsman Chris Benham, who represented Loughborough MCCU, is included in the squad after being released by his former county last summer.
Benham, 27, has played 48 first-class and 55 list A matches and will bring some vital experience to the squad, as well as putting himself in the shop window for a possible county return.
Current MCC Universities players: Luke Blackaby (Durham), Tom Craddock, Luis Reece & Adam Wilson (Leeds/Bradford), Tom Friend & Dominic Reed (Cardiff).
Former MCC Universities players: Chris Benham, James Campbell, Paul Dixey, Josh Knappett, Robin Lett, James Ord.
Former MCC Young Cricketers: Ned Eckersley, Glenn Querl, Jonathan Miles, Jackson Thompson, Chris Peploe, Joel Pope.