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Champion County team announced

MCC have announced its team to play the Champion County, Durham, at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi from 29 March - 1 April.
The historic four day, first-class match will be played using floodlights, pink cricket balls and white clothing.

It will be the first time that the MCC v Champion County match, the traditional English domestic season-opening fixture, has not been played at Lord’s.

Gloucestershire captain and former MCC Young Cricketer Alex Gidman will lead an MCC team blended with youth and experience.

Surrey’s Mark Ramprakash who, at 40, continues to dominate county bowling attacks and has 108 first-class centuries to his name, is one of three players in the MCC team with Test experience.

Also in the MCC ranks are two young players who will be eager to impress the national selectors: Leicestershire’s James Taylor, the Cricket Writers’ Club and PCA Young Player of the Year for 2009, and Middlesex and England Lions fast bowler Steve Finn.

Joining Finn in the pace bowling department is another England Lion, Gloucestershire’s Steve Kirby, and Hampshire’s Chris Tremlett.

In addition, Essex and England wicket-keeper James Foster will play in this fixture for the third year in succession.

Completing the MCC line-up will be Middlesex batsmen Dawid Malan - another former MCC Young Cricketer - and Scott Newman, plus Northamptonshire batsman David Sales and his county colleague, off-spinner James Middlebrook.

John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket and Manager of the MCC team to face Durham, said: "This is a traditional fixture, but there’s little else about this match that is traditional.

"It’s not just a contest between MCC and the Champion County, but a crucial step in researching the pink ball and first-class cricket under floodlights.

"We’re very pleased to be fielding an extremely talented MCC team in what will undoubtedly be a tough test against the strongest county in England.

"From speaking to our players in recent weeks, it’s clear there is a passion to play in this game: not only so they can kick-start their season but because they feel they can contribute to our wider research for the good of the game. We’re really looking forward to the match."

Alex Gidman, MCC’s captain against Durham, said: "I was delighted to be invited to play in this match, and to be asked to captain is a huge privilege.

"My family have strong ties with MCC, and both myself and my brother Will spent time as MCC Young Cricketers, so I cannot wait to lead out the MCC team in such an historic fixture.

"Using pink balls under lights in a four-day, first-class match promises to be a very interesting experiment and certainly something that every player will be looking forward to being a part of."

MCC team to play Durham:

* Alex Gidman - Gloucestershire CCC
Scott Newman - Middlesex CCC
David Sales - Northamptonshire CCC
Mark Ramprakash - Surrey CCC
Dawid Malan - Middlesex CCC
James Taylor - Leicestershire CCC
† James Foster - Essex CCC
James Middlebrook - Northamptonshire CCC
Chris Tremlett - Surrey CCC
Steve Kirby - Gloucestershire CCC
Steve Finn - Middlesex CCC

* denotes captain
† denotes wicket-keeper

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