Mark Ramprakash will be given another belated chance to showcase his skill to a foreign audience after being named in the MCC squad for their trip to Abu Dhabi at the end of March. The 40-year-old batsman is deemed one of Test cricket's great unfulfilled talents, yet has an extraordinary record in English domestic cricket. The rich return he has had with the willow late in his career even earned him a place on the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction list earlier this month.
Ramprakash, who found fame beyond the boundary as a star of the UK TV show Strictly Come Dancing, eventually missed out on a lucrative deal with any of the IPL franchises. However, he can still look forward to some foreign travel before the new season starts, first with his county side Surrey, who play in the Emirates Airline Twenty20 Cup in Dubai on March 19 and 20, then in the capital with MCC. He will line up alongside some of the brightest emerging talent in the UK when MCC play their traditional season curtain-raiser against the champion county Durham at the Zayed Stadium from March 29.
He is one of three players in the MCC ranks with Test experience, along with the wicketkeeper James Foster and fast bowler Chris Tremlett. Their opponents, Emirates-sponsored Durham, will likely have England fast bowler Steve Harmison in their attack. The fixture is traditionally played at MCC's home ground, Lord's in London, but has been switched to the Middle East as they seek to trial new methods in an attempt to increase the appeal of four-day cricket.
The match will be played under floodlights, and pink cricket balls will be used for the first time in a first-class match. John Stephenson, the manager of the MCC team, said: "This is a traditional fixture, but there's little else about this match that is traditional. It's not just a contest between MCC and the champion county, but a crucial step in researching the pink ball and first-class cricket under floodlights."
MCC will be captained by Alex Gidman, the former England A captain, who will seek to remind the selectors of his talents. Gidman said: "Both myself and my brother Will spent time as MCC Young Cricketers, so I cannot wait to lead out the MCC team in such an historic fixture." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org