A classy knock of 89 from Worcestershire batsman Joe Clarke helped the MCC forge a strong position on the opening day of the Champion County match against Middlesex at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
In the first outing of the pink Dukes ball that will be used in the first day-night Test match in England, against West Indies in August, the contest between bat and ball proved even and compelling as the MCC, having won the toss and elected to bat, were all out for 332 late in the day.
In response, Middlesex reached stumps - which arrived at 9.17pm - on 9-1. Sam Robson edged the first ball of the innings wide of fourth slip for four, but by the end of the over had nicked Lewis Gregory to third slip. Nick Gubbins, who survived a huge lbw appeal first ball from Craig Overton, and the nightwatchman Tom Helm, negotiated the remaining three overs unscathed.
MCC’s day got off to a tricky start, as Adam Lyth - called into the side to replace the injured captain Sam Northeast - and Tom Alsop fell in consecutive overs to the new ball. Lyth was trapped lbw not offering a stroke to a swinging delivery from the highly-rated Helm, while Alsop also fell lbw, the first of three victims for James Harris, who last year played in this fixture for MCC against Yorkshire.
That brought MCC captain Alex Lees and England batsman Ben Duckett together, and they shared a sprightly stand of 109 in 22 overs, full of attacking strokes, before both fell to the left-arm spin of Ravi Patel either side of lunch. Lees was caught down the legside by wicketkeeper John Simpson just before the break, while Duckett - who played fluently for his 69 from 88 balls, which included seven boundaries - was trapped lbw on the back-foot by a sharp-turning delivery.
As the ball softened and the spinners bedded in, Clarke and his Worcestershire colleague Ben Cox put on 81 before the latter was pinned in front by Harry Podmore, who was selected ahead of James Fuller with Toby Roland-Jones and Steven Finn rested and Tim Murtagh away on international duty with Ireland.
Clarke ploughed on after the dinner break and into the evening session, cover-driving Patel beautifully in a stand of 69 with Gregory, who was caught at first slip off the left-arm spinner as the new ball approached. In the first over of the new ball - which swung under lights, Clarke fell lbw to the excellent Harris, who had Liam Plunkett caught at deep square-leg shortly after.
Podmore had Jack Leach caught well down the legside by Simpson then, with the first ball of a new spell, Helm picked up his second wicket, with Overton plumb in front as MCC were all out for 332.