India’s Virender Sehwag is to captain Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in their four-day match against English county champions Durham in Abu Dhabi next month, officials announced on Thursday.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan will lead the MCC team in the preceding Emirates Twenty20 event.
Sehwag, one of the most destructive opening batsman cricket has known, said he was honoured to be leading MCC in a match that acts as a curtain-raiser to the forthcoming English season.
“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,” said the 35 year old, who has scored 8,586 runs at an average of nearly fifty with 23 hundreds in 104 Tests.
Also in the squad for the game at Zayed Cricket stadium are England spinner Monty Panesar and Sri Lanka wicket-keeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardene as well as several promising county players including Middlesex opener Sam Robson, who has been scoring heavily for the second-string England Lions of their tour of Sri Lanka.
Prior to the Champion County match, MCC will arrive in Abu Dhabi on March 18 for a Twenty20 tournament featuring county sides Lancashire, Sussex and Durham, as well as a Fly Emirates Select XI.
In that event, MCC will be led by extraordinary off-spinner Muralitharan, Test cricket’s most successful bowler of all-time with 800 wickets.
Traditionally, MCC played the champion county at their Lord’s headquarters in north-west London but since 2010 the fixture has been staged in Abu Dhabi.
“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,” said MCC head of cricket John Stephenson, the former England batsman.
Once again the match will be played under floodlights as part of MCC’s ongoing push to get day/night cricket introduced into the Test arena as a way of reviving interest in the five-day format.
“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,” Stephenson said.
“The evidence continues to mount and the club believes this will soon translate into day-night Test cricket, which will help re-invigorate the five day international game in countries where attendances are low,” he added.
Although it is more than 40 years since MCC ceased to run English cricket, it retains worldwide responsibility for the game’s laws.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of MCC’s move to its present Lord’s ground, with Sehwag among a host of famous names including Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne due to play in a special bicentenary match on July 5.
Virender Sehwag (IND, capt), Muttiah Muralitharan (SRI, capt - T20 fixtures only), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Luis Reece (Lancashire), Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire/ENG), Prassana Jayawardene (SRI, wkt), Ollie Rayner (Middlesex), Andre Adams (Nottinghamshire), Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire), Kyle Hogg (Lancashire), Monty Panesar (Essex/ENG)