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Day-night Tests edging closer - Stephenson

This year’s Champions County game, which starts tomorrow, will bring day-night Tests a step closer, according to MCC head of cricket John Stephenson.

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi is now very much the home of the domestic season’s traditional curtain-raiser, with 2013 LV= County Championship winners Durham this time providing the opposition for MCC.

The four-day game will start at 2.30pm local time each day, so the first session is played in natural light and the last under floodlights.

A pink ball will again be in use at Abu Dhabi when LV= County Champions Durham do battle with MCC in the traditional domestic season curtain-raiser

Stephenson, who selected an MCC team led by India batsman Virender Sehwag, said: "MCC has seen some very positive results from past day-night Champion County matches and has provided the game with invaluable insight into the possibilities of playing floodlit Test cricket.

"The recent trials of pink cricket balls in floodlit Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia have continued this trend and MCC 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."

Other stars in the MCC side are Sri Lanka wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene plus England duo Monty Panesar and Samit Patel.

Durham’s biggest available name is England seamer Graham Onions, whose 70 wickets made him the most prolific bowler in last year’s championship.

The champions are without captain Paul Collingwood, part of England’s coaching staff at the World Twenty20, Ben Stokes, who has a broken wrist, and Gareth Breese, who is absent due to a family illness.

Dale Benkenstein, Will Smith and Callum Thorp have left over the winter while overseas player John Hastings, whose signing was announced this week, has not yet joined the county.

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