MCC today named Sam Northeast in a provisional squad to play Champion County, Warwickshire, in English cricket’s traditional curtain-raiser, which will be played at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi from 24th – 27th March. It is the fourth consecutive time that the historic fixture has been played away from Lord’s, and will once again be a day-night match played under floodlights with a pink ball.
South African batting all-rounder Dale Benkenstein will lead an experienced MCC side that includes three players who have previously played for the Club in the four day First Class fixture: Somerset fast bowler Steve Kirby and Middlesex top-order batsman Dawid Malan both featured in the team that lost to Durham in 2010 and the MCC side that beat Nottinghamshire in 2011.
Alan Richardson (Worcestershire), a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2011, will be hoping to build on his performance for the Club in last season’s Champion County fixture against Lancashire. On that occasion however it was Lancashire’s young left arm spinner Simon Kerrigan who stole the show with the ball, returning match-winning figures of 8-96. Benkenstein will be pleased therefore to be able to call on Kerrigan’s services for MCC this time around, in a bowling attack that also features Somerset’s Peter Trego, who has been playing for Central Districts in New Zealand this winter.
Former Loughborough MCC Universities batsmen Jimmy Adams (Hampshire) and Kent youngster Sam Northeast will be making their debuts for the Club, and they will be joined at the top of the MCC batting order by Middlesex’s Joe Denly, who will arrive in the UAE fresh from playing for Barisal Burners in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Prior to the Champion County match, MCC will play against Sussex and Warwickshire in the Emirates Airline Twenty20 Trophy on the 21st and 22nd March at 7he Sevens Stadium in Dubai. Benkenstein’s MCC side will be boosted in this competition by the presence of Rajasthan Royals teammates Rahul Dravid and Shaun Tait, who will then depart before the Champion County fixture to prepare for the start of the IPL in April. It will be the third consecutive year that Dravid has played for MCC in the UAE, as he continues his association with the Club, which includes sitting on the MCC World Cricket committee.
John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket and Manager of the MCC team in the UAE, said:
“Since the decision was first made four years ago to play the Champion County fixture in Abu Dhabi as a day-night match, national cricket boards from around the world have subsequently trialed the format. All of this research has recently culminated in the ICC officially sanctioning the possibility of playing day-night Test cricket, which MCC has been calling for since 2009 in a bid to re-energise Tests in countries where crowds are falling. The fact that evidence from previous Champion County fixtures has contributed to this decision greatly highlights MCC’s global research and development role, and the 2013 match against Warwickshire will build on this platform.
“In addition to giving MCC an excellent opportunity to test the pink ball under floodlights, the Champion County fixture and Emirates Airline Twenty20 Trophy provides the selected players with an ideal preparation opportunity ahead of the English domestic season. In particular it will be a wonderful experience for the younger members of the MCC squad – Sam Northeast and Simon Kerrigan – to share a dressing room with world class players like Rahul Dravid, Shaun Tait and Dale Benkenstein.”
The final two players for the MCC side to face Warwickshire in the 2013 Champion County match will be announced shortly.
The MCC squad is:
Dale Benkenstein (captain) (South Africa and Durham)
Jimmy Adams (Hampshire)
Joe Denly (England and Middlesex)
Rahul Dravid (Emirates Airline Twenty20 only) (India)
Simon Kerrigan (Champion County match only) (Lancashire)
Steve Kirby (Somerset)
Dawid Malan (Middlesex)
Sam Northeast (Kent)
Alan Richardson (Worcestershire)
Shaun Tait (Emirates Airline Twenty20 only) (Australia)
Peter Trego (Somerset)
Two players are still to be confirmed.