Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

For the second year in succession the English domestic season has started in March with a fixture in Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium. The English season traditionally starts in mid-April at Lord’s with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) taking on the reigning county champions. This year, as before, under a three-year agreement between the Abu Dhabi Cricket Council and MCC the opening game has been played in the Gulf, partially under lights, with a pink ball.

Afghanistan’s all-rounders Hamid Hassan and Mohammad Nabi who first played for the MCC in 2007 are in the side as is Rahul Dravid who is a member of the MCC’s World Cricket Committee that is assessing the merits of pink-ball cricket. Two other full internationals are in the four-day game against Nottinghamshire. Founded in 1787, MCC are responsible for the Laws of the Game as well as well as promoting the ‘spirit of cricket’ and are increasingly keen to be seen as an innovative, forward-thinking body. MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson has said that the decision to play under lights was taken to promote the cause of day-night Test cricket. Speaking last year, when the pink ball was used for the first time in English first-class cricket (the ball had been used in West Indies first-class cricket in January 2010), when MCC played Durham in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Stephenson said that the step was taken to make floodlit Test cricket an eventual reality.

“We've been asking cricket authorities around the world to help us trial the pink ball under floodlights. If this match is a success, it could help to reinvigorate Test cricket. We have an opportunity to play our part for the good of the game and we're determined to grasp it,” he said. Pakistan domestic cricket also used the pink ball under lights this season.

The Academy at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi is known as the Zayed MCC Cricket Academy under the agreement between the two bodies. Abu Dhabi Cricket Council and Emirates Cricket Board CEO Dilawar Mani says "It is a tremendous boost for UAE cricket and aspiring juniors and is a further step in promoting the game in Abu Dhabi.” As a neutral venue Abu Dhabi has hosted a Test, ODIs and T20Is.

MCC v Nottinghamsire, Abu Dhabi, March 27-30 2011
UAE Cricket Profile

Filed March 28th, 2011