KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
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Rahul Dravid will represent MCC on their tour of the UAE this March, with Dale Benkenstein captaining the team in both the Emirates Airline t20 tournament and Champion County fixture against Warwickshire.
India legend Dravid, who retired from international cricket last year, is one of a number already confirmed for the MCC team which will take on Sussex and Warwickshire in Dubai in a competition which also features 2011 County Champions Lancashire.
Australian fast-bowler Shaun Tait will also play in MCC's t20 side for the second year running.
The Emirates Airline t20 is the first leg of MCC's Champion County trip, the four-day season curtain raiser against last year's winners Warwickshire, played for the fourth consecutive year in Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Stadium, being the main event. Once again the fixture will be a day-night first-class match, using a pink ball - which will be provided by manufacturer Kookaburra.
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson will manage the team in the UAE and spoke of the importance of continued testing of the format.
He said:"Since the decision was first made four years ago to play the Champion County fixture in Abu Dhabi as a day-night match, national cricket boards from around the world have subsequently trialed the format.
"All of this research has recently culminated in the ICC officially sanctioning the possibility of playing day-night Test cricket, which MCC has been calling for since 2009, in a bid to re-energise Tests in countries where crowds are falling.
"The fact that evidence from previous Champion County fixtures has contributed to this decision greatly highlights MCC’s global research and development role, and the 2013 match against Warwickshire will build on this platform."
Benkenstein, the 38-year-old former South Africa batsman, leads an experienced team on the trip, with many of the squad having played in the Champion County fixture in the recent past.
Players confirmed include veteran seamers Steve Kirby and Alan Richardson, who have both represented MCC in the Champion County clash, and Middlesex's Dawid Malan, who played alongside Kirby in 2010.
Simon Kerrigan meanwhile enjoyed considerable success against MCC last year, taking a match-winning 8/96 as Lancashire completed a comfortable six-wicket win. Other names confirmed include Somerset's Peter Trego, Hampshire skipper and ex-Loughborough MCC Universities batsman Jimmy Adams, Sam Northeast of Kent and Malan's county teammate, England opener Joe Denly.
Northamptonshire all-rounder James Middlebrook confirmed his place in the squad on Monday 28 January. The final squad member will be confirmed shortly.
Dravid's appearance will mean he has played for MCC in the UAE for three consecutive winters, which included scoring a century for the Club in its victory over Nottinghamshire in the 2011 Champion County fixture. He appeared alongside fellow Indian hero Sourav Ganguly and his teammate at Rajasthan Royals, Tait in the Emirates Airline t20 the following year.
Dravid has a warm relationship with MCC - where he is an Honorary Life Member - also sitting on the Club's World Cricket committee. The 40-year-old retired from first-class and international cricket in 2012, but is set for another season with the Royals in the 2013 Indian Premier League.