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Benkenstein back in the UAE Published: 24 January 2013

Dale Benkenstein is relishing the prospect of captaining MCC on their Champion County trip to the UAE in March, three years after playing in the inaugural day-night, first-class fixture.

I'm expecting a good match

Former-South Africa international Benkenstein will lead an experienced MCC side against Warwickshire in the four-day Champion County match, and in the Emirates Airline t20 tournament in Dubai.

Benkenstein was part of the Durham team who convincingly beat MCC at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi in 2010 when the first trial of the format took place, as well as the side who played in the last of these fixtures to be played at Lord's a year before.

Fast-forward to 2013 and MCC are set for their fourth consecutive day-night Champion County clash in Abu Dhabi, with trial matches having been played across the world and the ICC officially declaring their support for the format - increasing the likelihood of a first Test match under lights taking place in the near future.

Benkenstein, 38, admitted the changed conditions had posed a different kind of challenge, but was encouraged by the development of the format.

"It was interesting three years ago in the first trial," Benkenstein told Lords.org.

"The ball held up quite well and the conditions in the Middle East, with the temperature fluctuating and the dew made batting tricky - but that becomes part of the game. It brought a new way of thinking to things.

"People are obviously working on developing the pink ball and the best way to do that is to play matches and get feedback from the players involved. Things will always improve this way.

"I see the ICC are also trying to embrace this format of the game, and it could be a part of the future."

Benkenstein has a strong set of players behind him for the fixture, which is his second first-class match for MCC in ten years as a Member of the Club - the first coming against the West Indians at Arundel in 2004. As well as fellow international Joe Denly, Benkenstein's squad is boosted by the fact that around half of his side have played in this fixture in recent seasons, including veteran seamers Steve Kirby and Alan Richardson, and Lancashire's match-winner in 2012, Simon Kerrigan.

"There's some good players in the team and some who have played out there in those conditions before, which helps," added Benkenstein, who played in 23 ODIs.

"Obviously there's always the problem that at this time of year, people haven't played much cricket, but it's a good preparation for the coming season and once you get into a match situation the competitive juices start flowing, so I'm expecting a good match."

In addition to the Warwickshire fixture, Benkenstein's men play in the Emirates Airline t20 tournament in Dubai, with fixtures scheduled against Sussex and their four-day opponents. MCC's squad for the day is boosted by the inclusion of India legend Rahul Dravid and Australia paceman Shaun Tait - two players Benkenstein is excited to captain.

"It's great to play alongside that calibre of player. I've played against Dravid in ODIs before but never with or against Tait, so I'm looking forward to it."


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