Monday 19 November 2012 

Champions to open the First Class Season in Abu Dhabi


Warwickshire’s First Class season opener – as LV County Champions – against the MCC will take place at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi from 24-27 March 2013 in day/night conditions.

The first match of the season – which traditionally sees the MCC take on the reigning County Champions – will be played in the Emirates for the fourth consecutive year, and will be played with a pink Kookaburra ball; the same format as used in the past three seasons.

MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson spoke of his excitement at returning to the Emirates next Spring. He said: "I’m pleased to say that we’ll be returning to Abu Dhabi for the 2013 Champion County fixture against Warwickshire. It is a fantastic facility and both sets of players will benefit from their time in the UAE."

The match now has extra significance after the ICC's recent amendments to their playing conditions, allowing two nations to play a Test in day/night conditions - should they both agree.

However, with some still expressing doubts over the viability of the pink ball for a Test match, the fixture will provide another opportunity to rigorously test the Kookaburra version in ideal day/night conditions.

And Stephenson was bullish in his assessment of the day/night Test scenario, adding: "After the ICC's recent endorsement of day/night Test cricket, I hope it will be the last such game before we see two countries playing a Test in the format - if it hasn't happened before March!"

MCC's decision to play the first day/night first-class match in Abu Dhabi in 2010 was a direct response to the Club's World Cricket committee exploring the possibility of using the pink ball to play Test cricket in a new format.

However, while the recent early starts to the domestic English season have made it difficult, Stephenson remained open to the match returning to NW8 in the future.

"I understand that some people will want to see the match back at Lord's," added the former Essex and Hampshire cricketer.

"As I’m sure is obvious though, there are scheduling issues which would need to be overcome before that would be possible.

"However, we remain open to the possibility and are keeping our options open for the 2014 fixture."

Warwickshire's fixture list for the 2013 season is set to be unveiled before the end of November.

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