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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Sunday, 28 March 2010 14:41 UK

Abu Dhabi set for MCC v Durham county season opener

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium hosts the traditional county curtain-raiser

The new English county cricket season gets under way in a fresh setting on Monday when champions Durham play the MCC in Abu Dhabi from 1100 BST.

The four-day match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium will be played partly under floodlights using pink balls.

The MCC is keen promote the use of the pink ball with the long-term aim of it facilitating day-night Test matches.

MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw said a successful trial of the ball in Abu Dhabi could bring evening Tests closer.

The hope is that it is both easier to see under night skies than the red ball and less prone to scuffing and discolouration than the white ones used for one-day internationals.

Bradshaw said: "The MCC have just done a tour in this region and all the reports that came back on the pink ball were very encouraging.


"But the proof will be in the pudding, which is over the next few days.

"If the ball stacks up here, performs well, holds its shine and shape and the players have good visibility, then that's as good a test as any.

"If there are some issues with it we don't want to find we've created expectations we can't fulfil.

"But I would like to think that if the tests go well and the ball stacks up that we could implement this fairly quickly."

Durham captain Will Smith believes the custodians of the game must be careful in their implementation of the concept but accepts it could be a boost to the sport if handled correctly.

"If it goes well out here in 40 degree heat that's one thing but it would be hard to fully align that to English conditions," he said Smith.

"I think we would need to have a few more steps along the way before we see day-night Test cricket or championship cricket.

"If it can bring more spectators in after work then great, but it can't just be used as a money-making tool - the game still has to be right."

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see also
Glos' Gidman given MCC captaincy
26 Jan 10 |  Gloucestershire
Onions could miss start of season
23 Mar 10 |  Durham
MCC call up trio for Durham game
23 Mar 10 |  Cricket
Smith backs Durham squad strength
11 Mar 10 |  Durham
Abu Dhabi set to host MCC match
11 Dec 09 |  Cricket
In Pictures: Durham are champions
14 Sep 09 |  People and Places
Durham wrap up Championship title
12 Sep 09 |  Counties

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