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MCC set for Champion County clash

Monty Panesar bowls with the pink ball in the nets
Monty Panesar bowls with the pink ball in the nets

The annual Champion County Fixture will begin on Sunday 23 March, with Virender Sehwag's MCC taking on last year’s winners Durham.

The four-day match, which will be played as a day/night match with pink balls, will take place at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

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MCC will be led in the game by Indian batsman Virender Sehwag, and also contain Sri Lanka wicket-keeper Prasanna Jayawardene and England’s Samit Patel and Monty Panesar.

Also in the squad are a host of bright young county talent, including Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond, Lancashire’s Luis Reece and Middlesex opener Sam Robson - who has been on England Lions duty in Sri Lanka this winter.

Nottinghamshire’s Andre Adams and England hopeful Harry Gurney are also included in the squad.

Left-arm opening bowler Gurney, a former Leeds/Bradford MCC University cricketer, has recently returned from England’s limited overs tour of the West Indies.

The match is MCC’s second engagement of the tour, following the Emirates T20 tournament in Dubai on Friday 21 March, where MCC lost to Sussex in the final.

MCC captain Virender Sehwag said: "I was delighted to be asked to play in this match, and being able to captain the MCC side makes it even more of a privilege. We’re taking a very strong squad out to Abu Dhabi so I’m sure the standard of cricket on show will be very high.

"It’s also very exciting to be playing under lights with the pink ball. It’s a big innovation for the game and I’m very keen to be involved in any initiative which aims to increase the appeal of cricket to a wider audience."

MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson has spoken about the strength of the MCC squad, saying: "We’ve combined some top international talent - Sehwag, Panesar and Jayawardene with some of the best young players in the country, some of whom have come through our university systems.

"We’ve also got some players pushing for international selection like Sam Robson, Ollie Rayner and Harry Gurney, so we’ve put together a really good team that will be very competitive. We’re certainly looking forward to the game getting underway."

Speaking about the use of pink balls for the match, Stephenson added: "MCC has seen some very positive results from past day-night Champion County matches and has provided the game with invaluable insight into the possibilities of playing floodlit Test cricket.

"The recent trials of pink cricket balls in floodlit Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia have continued this trend and MCC believes this will soon translate into day-night Test cricket, which will help to re-invigorate the five day international game in countries where attendances are low."

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