Bell to captain MCC against Yorkshire
Ian Bell has been named as captain of the MCC side to take on Yorkshire in this year's Champion County match in Abu Dhabi. Bell, who still hopes to add to his tally of England caps, was handed the Warwickshire captaincy last month.
The four-day first-class match between an MCC XI and the reigning county champions, traditionally the season's opening fixture, will begin on March 20. Unlike previous years, when the match has been used to trial the pink ball, this time it will be played during daylight hours with a red ball, at Yorkshire's request.
It could be the first of several duels with Yorkshire for Bell, as he attempts to lead Warwickshire to the Championship title they last won in 2012.
"This match is perfect for me to get some time in the middle ahead of the new season and I'm very grateful to MCC for offering me the chance to both play for and captain the team," Bell said.
"It's a nice opportunity for some practice in warm weather, and it will of course be a privilege to represent MCC again. Yorkshire's team is full of top quality players so it will be great for myself and the rest of our guys to test ourselves against them, and hopefully I can contribute to an entertaining match."
Bell, 33, has previously played for the MCC in 2004 and 2009 but this will be the first time he has done so out in the UAE, which is hosting the Champion County match for the seventh time. The team for this year's fixture has yet to be announced.
John Stephenson, MCC's head of cricket, said: "Ian Bell is one of the best England cricketers of his generation and I'm delighted that he has agreed to captain MCC for this year's Champion County match. It's an ideal opportunity for him to gain match practice ahead of the new season, and I'm sure his experience will prove beneficial for our squad too."