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Big names ready for Emirates T20 challenge

Matt Prior and Prasanna Jayawardene pose with the Emirates T20 trophy at a press conference
Matt Prior and Prasanna Jayawardene pose with the Emirates T20 trophy at a press conference

Sri Lanka’s Prasanna Jayawardene is itching at the chance to team up with former teamate Muttiah Muralitharan in the Emirates T20 tournament in Dubai.

Jayawardene, who will keep wicket for the MCC side led by leading Test wicket-taker Muralitharan, will be going up against Sussex, Lancashire and a Kerala Premier League XI on Friday 21 March at 7he Sevens Ground in Dubai.

"Murali is a legend, and I’ve missed him a lot since he hung up his boots. I’m really looking forward to playing alongside him again after a few years.

"It will be a real privilege and honour for the crowds at 7he Sevens to see him in action."

Jayawardene, who has played 55 Test matches for Sri Lanka, also spoke about the quality on show at the tournament.

"Just looking at the schedule and the line-ups, I think this is going to be a very tough tournament, certainly not a hit-and-giggle affair.

"Normally I play Test cricket but I really enjoy playing T20, so it’s a good opportunity for me. It’s the first time I’ll be playing in this tournament and I’m looking forward to it."

England and Sussex wicket-keeper Matt Prior, who will also be playing in the tournament, spoke about his county’s desire to retain the trophy that they won last year.

"The guys out here are motivated, and we want that trophy certainly. The guys have been in indoor schools and training in the cold and wet since the end of October, so to get out here and play on good wickets in competitive cricket is too good an opportunity to miss.

"To win this tournament, and hopefully get a kickstart on what could be a very successful season for us is a fantastic opportunity for the club.

"The old school pre-season tours were a bit of a stag-do really, and that’s certainly not the case any more. As I say it’s competition that’s been put in place, and we want to win that trophy."

Prior, Jayawardene and Muralitharan are just a handful of the star names that will be on display at 7he Sevens, with MCC also boasting internationals Monty Panesar and Samit Patel, and Lancashire fielding Jimmy Anderson.

And Prior is looking forward to taking on his England team-mate: "I was very excited to hear Jimmy was going to play for Lancashire - he’s a high competitor against any opponent but I think he’s tougher on anyone he’s played cricket with, so I’m expecting to get a few words and a bit of a barrage from him!

"It’s fantastic to see the list of international cricketers taking part in this tournament - to be able to share stories and information with them in this environment is great, and I’m thoroughly looking forward to batting against Jimmy in particular."

MCC will be led in the Emirates T20 tournament by Muralitharan, before Virender Sehwag takes over the captaincy for the four-day Champion County fixture, which will take place at the Zayed Stadium.

Meet MCC's 2014 Champion County squad

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