ABU DHABI // The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) play their Champion County fixture against Durham at the Zayed Stadium today. As well as being the first four-day, first-class match to be played under floodlights it is also the first time that the Champion County match - the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season - will have been played anywhere other than Lord's cricket ground.
The MCC and the game's rulers, the Dubai-based International Cricket Council (ICC), are hoping to stage day/night Test matches at times better suitable to attract spectators, when work and school hours are over. In their bid to arrest the dwindling support for the longest form of the game, the MCC - who are a Lord's-based institution - have, for the past few weeks, been experimenting with a pink cricket ball against English cricket's leading domestic side in the capital.
Ten Sports, the Dubai TV broadcaster, will film today's play, as the organisers seek to assess whether the pink ball aids viewing. Alex Gidman, the MCC captain, said: "Like anything that is new, we are excited about being involved with this. "I don't care too much about the ball, but the concept of playing four-day cricket under floodlights is one that is exciting. "If there is a chance it will make the game more appealing to people in the future, it is worth a crack," he added yesterday.
The encounter will pit a Durham side led by England fast bowler, Steve Harmison, against the most prolific batsman in the domestic game of recent times, the MCC's Surrey player, Mark Ramprakash. Both men have played Test cricket for England with a lot of success. Ramprakash has scored 2,350 runs from 52 matches while Harmison has taken 226 wickets from 63 games. @Email:email@example.com