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Welcome to Abu Dhabi, the Holiday Home of Cricket

Submitted by rickeyre on December 12, 2009 - 8:20pm

Quiz time. The topic is the annual curtain-raiser to the English cricket season where the MCC plays the previous year's county champions. Your task is to list your ten favourite moments from this annual contest.

Err, ok. Can you name one? Oh well, maybe not. A forgettable fixture which nonetheless counts towards the first-class stats will be reinvented in the most outrageous fashion in 2010. With the start of the England domestic season pushed back to April 3 to squish in all the international cricket, the MCC will face 2009 county champions, not at Lord's, but at the Zayed International Stadium, Abu Dhabi. A venue that's not only not on the English mainland, but is way beyond the extremities of the European Union.

What's more, this match will be conducted with experimental pink-coloured cricket balls and played into the evenings under floodlights, one of the trials taking place to assess the viability of day-night Test cricket.

As bizarre as it all may sound, this is a brilliant idea. Fixtures such as these are the perfect platform for use as experimental testbeds. The move from St John's Wood to Abu Dhabi will upset a few MCC members, who already have ahead of them the indignity of seeing their beloved ground used for Olympic archery, but it is also important to stage an experiment such as this in a location that is unlikely to be rained out at the beginning of April.

The MCC announced last month that it has entered into a three-year associate agreement with the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club. The biggest issue that might preclude the future of this association is the very economic viability of Abu Dhabi itself.

And as for the pink balls... possibly even the operatives of might approve - at least until they introduce the ball to women's cricket.