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MCC v Champion County- preview

By in Mar_2010

MCC raise the curtain on the English cricket season, taking on last season's County Champions (Durham) in the traditional annual fixture - this time in Abu Dhabi.

MCC opted to move the match to Abu Dhabi as a chance to continue the Club's testing of new, pink cricket balls.

MCC have picked a strong squad representing seven different counties, many with international experience.

The biggest name in the batting line-up is arguably Surrey's Mark Ramprakash.

The stylish right-hander has 52 Test caps but is now almost as famous for his Strictly Come Dancing moves as he is for his cricket. However, with bat in hand last season he became only the 25th player to score 100 first-class centuries.

In the bowling battery Gloucestershire's Jon Lewis has played 14 times for England (1 Test; 13 ODIs) and the tall seamer will be joined by England Lions' Steve Kirby - who had an 'eventful' time in this fixture two years ago.

Playing for MCC against 2007 champions Sussex, Kirby took the first three wickets of the match, single-handedly reducing Sussex to 71-3 at Lord's.

He ended with figures of 4-39 but after scoring four runs with the bat had to retire hurt after taking a nasty blow on the head.

Durham - 'formidable'

The Durham side may already be affected by injuries.

Front-line bowlers Onions and Liam Plunkett were both with the England side in Bangladesh but both have been sent home early with injuries.

The LV County Champions can still call on the formidable Steve Harmison who will, no doubt, be keen to impress having been dropped from the England side.

Durham can also call upon Ian Blackwell. Capped 35 times by England (1 Test; 34 ODIs) Blackwell joined Durham in 2009 having made his name at Somerset.

Making his Durham debut in this fixture against MCC last year he quickly settled into his new team.

Batting at number six Blackwell strode out at Lord's with his new county wobbling - after falling from 104 without loss to 141-4.

Batting alongside his new skipper, Will Smith, Blackwell was clearly keen to impress. The pair put on 170 for the fifth wicket, Blackwell smashing 102 from just 109 balls.

The match won't just be keenly fought at the crease either - behind the stumps both teams can boast top wicket-keepers.

For MCC, Essex's James Foster is often strongly linked with the England side - having played as recently as the ICC World T20.

For Durham, another man with England caps Phil Mustard, whose powerful batting is seen as the perfect compliment to his sharp glove work.

Follow it live with Lord's

It's sure to be a thrilling way to start the season and you can follow it all with

We'll have live, ball-by-ball commentary available via, courtesy of BBC Newcastle. We'll also have session-by-session updates from Abu Dhabi and all the latest photos from the match.

Or why not follow us on Twitter - we'll have all the breaking news from the match as well as the inside story from events off the pitch.
MCC squad to face 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
Tim Murtagh – Middlesex CCC
Steve Kirby – Gloucestershire CCC
Jon Lewis – Gloucestershire CCC
Dean Cosker – Glamorgan CCC

* denotes captain
† denotes wicket-keeper

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