Ramprakash to lead MCC against Lancashire
Mark Ramprakash, Surrey's former England batsman, will captain MCC against the champion county, Lancashire, in the traditional precursor to the English domestic season - a four-day match that will again be at the forefront of MCC's campaign for a trial of floodlit Test cricket.
The March 27-30 match, once fought out in bitterly cold conditions in England in early April, will again involve pink balls under the floodlights at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Ramprakash, who last wore MCC colours 17 years ago, has always been one of the more serious analysts of the game so unsurprisingly the opportunity to experience pink-ball cricket excites him. "I have never played with a pink ball before and I'm looking forward to negotiating this new challenge," he said. "Any innovation which could help increase the popularity of the game is to be welcomed."
The MCC's world cricket committee is adamant that floodlit Test cricket could quicken interest in parts of the world where attendances have fallen and a concerted campaign has helped to persuade Tim May, the chief executive of the international players' association, FICA, to visit Abu Dhabi to gather feedback from the players.
The Champion County match will be preceded by the Emirates Airline Twenty20 - a four-way tournament featuring MCC, Lancashire, Durham and Sussex to be played in Dubai on March 23. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have both grasped the opportunity for match practice with the MCC side before departing to play in the IPL for Pune Warriors and Rajasthan Royals respectively.
Neither will take part in the four-day game. Ganguly still plays some first-class cricket these days for Bengal - which he freely admits he uses to stay in tune for Twenty20 - and this season he helped them avoid relegation in the Ranji Trophy, averaging 53 in six matches and finishing as Bengal's second-highest rungetter behind Manoj Tiwary.
This is the third year that the MCC has trialled a pink ball under lights. Stephen Peters, the Northants opener, has previous experience of the ball used - a Kookaburra G3 with white seam - but for many this remains a novel experience.
MCC squad: Mark Ramprakash (Surrey), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Gareth Batty (Surrey), Ian Blackwell (Durham), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Hamish Marshall (New Zealand and Gloucestershire), Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (Pakistan and Derbyshire), Niall O'Brien (Ireland and Northamptonshire), Stephen Peters (Northamptonshire), Gareth Rees (Glamorgan), Alan Richardson (Worcestershire).
Note: Marshall and Naved will be replaced by Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly for the T20 tournament.
Edited by Alan Gardner