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MCC breaks new ground in women's game

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MCC has announced its first women's under-19 squad to play in the maiden U19 Women's ARCH Trophy in Abu Dhabi and Dubai from February 18-23.

As part of a wider MCC Spirit of Cricket Festival in the United Arab Emirates, which culminates with the men’s Champion County game, it is the first time in the club's 226-year history that an age-group women's side has been selected.

The players have been chosen in partnership with the ECB - directly from the England women's development programme. The move represents the latest stage in MCC's ongoing work with the ECB to support the continued growth of women's cricket in England.

During the six-day tournament the MCC U19 women's side will play three 50-over group games with Durham, Devon and Essex Women's U19s. The final of the competition will take place at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi - where MCC will face county champions Warwickshire at the end of March.

MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said: "I am absolutely delighted that MCC is working alongside Sport Arabia to deliver the first annual U19 Women's ARCH Trophy in Dubai and the UAE this month, as part of a wider MCC Spirit of Cricket Festival.

Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

The Zayed International Cricket Stadium will host the maiden U19 Women's ARCH Trophy final and the men's Champion County game

"At the start of 2012 MCC collaborated with the ECB to enhance and expand the MCC Women's Young Cricketers programme, and the selection of an MCC women's U19 side - for the first time in the club's history - to take part in this competition represents the latest development in this partnership.

“The opportunity to play cricket in other parts of the world is a central focus of MCC's involvement in youth cricket, and it is excellent that we are now able to accommodate this for an U19 women's team through our ongoing relationships with Sport Arabia and the ECB."

ECB head of England women's cricket Clare Connor said: "The U19 Women's ARCH Trophy is a brilliant new initiative for 2013 which will give a large number of girls the opportunity to experience an overseas cricket tour for the first time.

“There's nothing like touring to learn more about the game and about playing as a team, so it will be excellent preparation for the 2013 county age group season. I wish all the participants a successful tour.

"I am delighted that nearly every member of the England women's U19 development programme will be participating in the tournament, either with their county or as part of the MCC squad."

Sport Arabia director Roger Myall said: "We are delighted in the uptake and interest in year one of this event and fully expect that the 2013 tournament will act as a springboard for the continued development the women's game. In particular, we look forward to continuing our relationship with MCC, and further promoting the MCC Spirit of Cricket message."

MCC U19 women's squad: Holly Armitage (Yorkshire), Izzy Collis (Sussex), Abigail Freeborn (Sussex), Grace Gibbs (Kent), Cordelia Griffith (Essex), Alex Hartley (Lancashire), Georgia Hennessey (Worcestershire), Georgia Holmes (Cumbria), Marie Kelly (Warwickshire), Sophie Luff (Somerset), Charlotte Pape (Kent), Lily Reynolds (Cambridgeshire), Linsey Smith (Berkshire), Jess Watson (Yorkshire).