MCC announce side for pink-ball fixture
The MCC has selected a blend of youthful promise, Test experience and county stalwarts for the traditional season opener against the County Champions starting on March 29.
This year is a landmark for the fixture, with the match not being played at Lord's for the first time. Instead the game, against Durham, will take place under lights in the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi with a pink ball, in an attempt to research the feasibility of Test cricket under lights.
Gloucestershire captain and former MCC Young Cricketer Alex Gidman will lead the side that includes Mark Ramprakash, who, at 40, continues to dominate domestic attacks. Also in the ranks are two players who will be eager to impress national selectors: Leicestershire's James Taylor, the Cricket Writers' Club and PCA Young Player of the Year for 2009, and Middlesex and England Lions paceman Steve Finn.
In a lively fast-bowling pack, Finn will be joined by Gloucestershire's Steve Kirby, and Chris Tremlett, who is trying to resurrect his international career with a move of from current county Hampshire. In addition, Essex wicketkeeper James Foster will play in this fixture for the third year in succession.
John Stephenson, the MCC head of cricket, said he is looking forward to being part of latest development in the game. "This is a traditional fixture, but there's little else about this match that is traditional," he said. "It's not just a contest between MCC and the Champion County, but a crucial step in researching the pink ball and first-class cricket under floodlights."
"We're very pleased to be fielding an extremely talented MCC team in what will undoubtedly be a tough test against the strongest county in England. From speaking to our players in recent weeks, it's clear there is a passion to play in this game: not only so they can kick-start their season but because they feel they can contribute to our wider research for the good of the game. We're really looking forward to the match."
Gidman echoed these sentiments, saying that he is looking forward to being part of cricketing history. "I was delighted to be invited to play in this match, and to be asked to captain is a huge privilege. My family have strong ties with MCC, and both myself and my brother Will spent time as MCC Young Cricketers, so I cannot wait to lead out the MCC team in such an historic fixture," he said.
"Using pink balls under lights in a four-day, first-class match promises to be a very interesting experiment and certainly something that every player will be looking forward to being a part of."
MCC team 1 Alex Gidman (Gloucestershire) (Capt), 2 Scott Newman (Middlesex), 3 David Sales (Northamptonshire), 4 Mark Ramprakash (Surrey), 5 Dawid Malan (Middlesex), 6 James Taylor (Leicestershire), 7 James Foster (wk) (Essex), 8 James Middlebrook (Northamptonshire), 9 Chris Tremlett (Hampshire), 10 Steve Kirby (Gloucestershire), 11 Steve Finn (Middlesex)