Defending County Champions Yorkshire will face England Test captain Alastair Cook as part of a strong MCC side in their pre-season Champion County Match and T20 tournament in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The four-day Champion County match, the now annual pre-season curtain-raiser, will take place on March 22nd providing Yorkshire with ideal pre-season preparation as they bid to retain the Division One County Championship trophy they impressively won last season.
However, it will not be easy for Yorkshire as the MCC have selected perhaps their strongest squad yet for this annual game.
Prove his worth
Alastair Cook, hopefully refreshed after being left out of the England ODI side, will be keen to prove he is still a worthy Test batsmen and he will be ably supported by a number of players who are pushing for national recognition this year. The side, captained by Nick Compton, are strong throughout with the likes of James Hildreth, Graham Onions and Michael Carberry expected to play.
Added to this experience are young England Lions Sam Billings, Adam Rliey and Matt Dunn. Nepalese captain Paras Khadka has also been added to the squad for the T20 tournament.
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However, they will face a Yorkshire squad who are equally blessed with talent. They have had a number of players representing various England squads this winter and who will be keen to start the new season in a positive fashion. Yorkshire will be favourites once again to capture the County Championship title in 2015, and will also have a number of players who will want to cement international places themselves, so will be treating this fixture as the start of their season.
The pink ball
The four-day day/night game in Abu Dhabi will also see the use of a pink cricket ball. The ball will be used in the game as part of an on-going experiment to introduce day/night cricket into the longer format of the game with a view to reinvigorating the game. There is also a plan to introduce the pink ball into Test cricket later this year if trials prove successful.
Prior to the County Champion match both sides will also compete in a T20 tournament in Dubai where they will be joined by both Lancashire and Sussex.
More and more each year this pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi and Dubai is proving a popular addition to the cricketing calendar and for those involved it is a perfect opportunity to go away from the dull English weather and prepare themselves in fantastic conditions for what is always a long and challenging English summer schedule.
The MCC squad for the Champion County match and Emirates T20 tournament
Alastair Cook Essex
Nick Compton (captain) Middlesex
Michael Carberry Hampshire
James Hildreth Somerset
Zafar Ansari Surrey
Daryl Mitchell Worcestershire
Sam Billings Kent
Matt Dunn Surrey
Graham Onions Durham
Adam Riley Kent
Chris Rushworth Durham
Paras Khadka* Nepal
*Emirates T20 tournament only
Emirates T20 tournament - MCC, Yorkshire, Lancashire & Sussex
Friday 20 March
Dubai, The 7evens Ground
MCC v Yorkshire - Champion County match
Sunday 22 - Wednesday 25 March
Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Stadium