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Warwickshire face MCC in annual county curtain-raiser

County champions Warwickshire: set to launch new season

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As snow batters Britain, the county cricket season will get underway in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with champions Warwickshire taking on the MCC in the annual curtain-raiser.

Warwickshire will be without their England trio of Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Chris Woakes.

Their new pace bowler, Oliver Hannon-Dalby - signed from Yorkshire - will be on show but the Bears will be without fast bowlers Keith Barker and Boyd Rankin, who are both injured.

Wright and Clarke are playing in their third continent in three weeks, having flown from Lions duty in Australia to join up with Warwickshire's training camp in Barbados, then travelling to the Middle East.

The MCC, captained by Durham veteran Dale Benkenstein, have a strong squad.

Hampshire skipper Jimmy Adams, Kent's Sam Northeast, Middlesex duo Joe Denly and Dawid Malan and then Benkenstein will make up the top five.

Leicestershire's Ned Eckersley, one to watch this season, will have the gloves and the pace attack will consist of Somerset duo Peter Trego and Steve Kirby plus Durham's Chris Rushworth.

They will have two spinners in Northants' James Middlebrook and Lancashire leggie Simon Kerrigan.

The four-day match will be an experiment for first class day-night cricket, with play not starting until 2.30pm local time.

MCC manager John Stephenson said: "I am confident that day-night first-class cricket can work, and this match will add to our ongoing research on this format.

"The competitive juices are flowing. And all of the MCC players are now keen to get back out onto the field and play some challenging four-day cricket."

Warwickshire squad: Varun Chopra, Will Porterfield, Ian Westwood, Jim Troughton, Tim Ambrose, Rikki Clarke, Paul Best, Laurie Evans, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ateeq Javid, Chris Wright, Pete McKay, Tom Milnes

MCC: Jimmy Adams, Joe Denly, Sam Northeast, Dawid Malan, Dale Benkenstein, Ned Eckersley, Peter Trego, James Middlebrook, Simon Kerrigan, Chris Rushworth, Steve Kirby