Muralitharan, Sehwag to captain MCC
Muttiah Muralitharan, the world's leading international wicket-taker, and former India opener Virender Sehwag, as well as Monty Panesar and prospective England opener Sam Robson are among the players named in the MCC squad for next month's Champion County match in Abu Dhabi.
An MCC XI captained by Sehwag will play Durham, the 2013 Championship winners, in a four-day first-class match beginning on March 23 to herald the start of the English season. A T20 tournament featuring Lancashire, Sussex and Durham precedes the main fixture, in which Muralitharan will lead the side.
Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and England allrounder Samit Patel are also included in the squad, along with Patel's Nottinghamshire team-mates Harry Gurney, the left-arm seamer recently called up by England, and former New Zealand international Andre Adams.
As has been the case for the last few years, the Champion County match will be a day-night affair, using pink cricket balls; pink balls will also be used in the T20 fixtures.
"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," Sehwag said. "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."
John Stephenson, the MCC's head of cricket, said he hoped the continued pioneering of the pink ball in day-night first-class cricket would soon lead to it being taken up at higher levels within the game.
"MCC has had very positive results from these day-night Champion County matches, and has provided the game with invaluable insight into the possibilities of playing floodlit Test cricket," he said. "The evidence continues to mount and the club 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."
The trip will also feature Lancashire playing 50-over matches against an MCC Universities Combined XI and MCC Young Cricketers on March 22 and 23 respectively.
MCC squad: Virender Sehwag (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan (captain T20 fixtures), Sam Robson, Luis Reece, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Samit Patel, Prassana Jayawardene, Ollie Rayner, Andre Adams, Harry Gurney, Kyle Hogg, Monty Panesar