Yorkshire will be full of confidence when they take on the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in today’s Champion County match as the players look to fine-tune their preparations for the new season.
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It will be the sixth time Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium will host the four-day game where many of the cricketers, including MCC’s Alastair Cook, will come up against the pink ball for the first time in the day-night game.
The English county champions will enter the game on the back of winning the Emirates Airline T20 title on Friday after a comprehensive 74-run triumph over three-time defending champions Sussex at 7he Sevens Stadium in Dubai.
Yorkshire stand-in captain Alex Lees insists today’s game is very important for their season’s preparations.
“It was great to get this win (Emirates Airline T20) and now we want to carry that momentum forward for the MCC game because it’s another important game for us.”
Having overseen preparations in the UAE since their arrival more than a week ago, coach Jason Gillespie is more than happy to be playing against a strong MCC squad.
“It’s a great opportunity for the lads, especially those who have been training in England over the winter,” he said. “It’ll be fantastic to start playing some cricket and the MCC have put together an incredibly strong squad.
“There’s only so much indoor preparation you can do and I think it’s great to be able to get the lads together on tour,” he added.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid, one of six players to be included in the England Test squad for the West Indies, will be one of the in-form players after his four wickets in the final, while opener Andrew Hodd will also pose a threat after his 79 in the same game.
They will up against a side which includes England Test captain Cook. The opening batsman made 35 in their 18-run loss against Sussex in Friday’s semi-final and he will be eager to spend as much time at the crease ahead of England’s first Test against West Indies on April 13.
He will be joined by skipper Nick Compton and compatriot Michael Carberry, while Durham pair Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth will spearhead the MCC attack.
Middlesex’s Compton is relishing the opportunity of leading the side. Speaking to www.ecb.co.uk, the 31-year-old said: “If we win the game and win it well, and we all perform, then it will rank really highly on my achievements.
“I’m playing with some very, very good players, so I feel quite privileged to be able to lead these guys in what hopefully will be a very competitive match.”
Speaking of Cook’s presence, he said: “To have the England captain, it’s a treat in a way to have his experience and have his knowledge. It adds a bit more impetus to the game.”