Virender Sehwag and Muttiah Muralitharan have been selected in the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) teams that will be playing in the show-piece MCC matches in Abu Dhabi next month.
Sehwag, having been selected to captain in the longer format, will captain the MCC on 23rd March in a four-day Champion County match against Durham, with Muralitharan set to lead the team in the Emirates T20 tournament preceding that fixture. Other international names include England spinner Monty Panesar and Sri Lankan wicket-keeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardene.
The MCC squad will also feature a variety of young talented players from the county circuit, including Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond who has represented England at under-19 level, Lancashire's Luis Reece and Middlesex opener Sam Robson - who was selected in the England Lions squad this winter and has had great success in Sri Lanka.
Harry Gurney, a left-arm opening bowler for Nottinghamshire, has also been included in the squad; alongside being selected for the tour of West Indies with England's limited overs team. The former Leeds/Bradford MCCU cricketer being joined by fellow Nottinghamshire team mates Andre Adams and spinner Samit Patel.
The MCC team, who arrive in Abu Dhabi on 18th March, will face Lancashire, Sussex, Durham and a Fly Emirates Select XI in the Emirates T20 tournament which begins on the 21st March. Lancashire facing MCC Universities Combined XI and MCC Young Cricketers on 22nd and 23rd March, in two 50-over matches.
Both the Emirates T20 tournament and the four-day County Champion match are set to feature pink cricket balls, the Emirates T20 tournament, which Muralitharan will appear as captain also being played under the MCC Spirit of Cricket banner. The County Champion match is scheduled to be a day/night game between the MCC and 2013 County Champions Durham, who appeared in the same fixture in Abu Dhabi in 2010.
When asked about the arrangement, MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson commented: “MCC is very pleased to be returning to Abu Dhabi for the Champion County and Emirates T20 matches this year. It is an excellent ground for competitive first-class cricket and, played in good weather, will be ideal preparation for the players ahead of the English season.
“MCC has had very positive results from these day-night Champion County matches, and has provided the game with invaluable insight into the possibilities of playing floodlit Test cricket. The evidence continues to mount and the Club believes this will soon translate into day-night Test cricket, which will help to re-invigorate the five day international game in countries where attendances are low.”
Virender Sehwag, who as well as appearing in this tournament has been confirmed to appear in the Lord's Bicentenary match on 5th July between the MCC and Rest of the World, said: “I was delighted to be asked to play in this match, and being able to captain the MCC side makes it even more of a privilege. We're taking a very strong squad out to Abu Dhabi so I'm sure the standard of cricket on show will be very high.
“It's also very exciting to be playing under lights with the pink ball. It's a big innovation for the game and I'm very keen to be involved in any initiative which aims to increase the appeal of cricket to a wider audience.”
The full MCC squad travelling to Abu Dhabi is as follows:
Virender Sehwag (India, Captain)
Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, Captain – T20 fixtures only)
Sam Robson (Middlesex & England Lions)
Luis Reece (Lancashire, ex-Leeds/Bradford MCCU)
Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent)
Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire & England)
Prassana Jayawardene (Sri Lanka)
Ollie Rayner (Middlesex & England Lions)
Andre Adams (Nottinghamshire)
Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire, ex-Leeds/Bradford MCCU)
Kyle Hogg (Lancashire)
Monty Panesar (Essex & England)