MCC to trial pink ball on Middle Eastern tour

A prototype pink ball Clare Skinner

MCC, who are currently engaged in a two-week tour of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat, will be using pink balls in all their games on the trip in order to further test the innovation in Middle Eastern conditions ahead of the historic match against County champions Durham in Abu Dhabi on March 29.

MCC's first tour of 2010 includes five 50-over and two Twenty20 games against teams from around the region. The first three matches will be played at the Zayed International Stadium, and two of the three games will be played under lights.

This tour culminates in a landmark fixture for the traditional opener to the English domestic season, with the match not being played at Lord's for the first time. Instead the game, against Durham, will be a four-day day-night fixture with a pink ball, in an attempt to research the feasibility of Test cricket under lights.

Before that game, the team will be travelling to Dubai to play two limited-overs games and provide coaching for local youngsters, before finishing off the tour with two matches against Oman in Muscat.

The squad is managed by MCC's current Chairman of Cricket, former Sussex captain Mike Griffith, and captained by Keith Dutch, the former Middlesex and Somerset allrounder. The men Dutch will captain have strong links with MCC youth cricket, with nine having been part of either the MCC Young Cricketers or the MCC Universities systems.

Will Gidman will be making the trip, alongside Worcestershire's Kadeer Ali, Gloucestershire's Steve Snell, and current MCC Universities players Tom Allin and Eddie Ballard. They will be joined by graduates of the system David Balcombe, currently with Hampshire, twin brothers Arfan and Adnan Akram and Jonathan Wightman.

There will be several changes to the squad for the Durham game, with Gloucestershire captain and former MCC Young Cricketer Alex Gidman set to lead the side, while the squad includes Mark Ramprakash, Leicestershire's James Taylor and Middlesex and England Lions paceman Steve Finn.

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.

It is the first time since 2004 that MCC has toured the region, and as part of their commitment to developing cricket in non-Test playing nations they will be donating $2,500 to be shared between the Abu Dhabi and Oman Cricket Associations, while the ICC will also be making a $1,250 donation.