London, Mar 21: Out-of-favour India batsman Virender Sehwag and Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan will lead two MCC sides in a series of matches in the Middle East to help launch the new county season.
Muralitharan will make a special appearance as MCC captain in the Emirates T20 tournament in Dubai, which takes place today and also features Lancashire, Sussex and a select XI from the Kerala Premier League.
Sehwag will then lead the MCC side into the four-day Champion County match against Durham, starting on March 23.
The day-night match will be played under the 'MCC Spirit of Cricket' banner and will feature the use of pink balls, which have recently been trialed in the Australian Sheffield Shield.
The Champion County match will be played at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium, the home of Abu Dhabi CC.
Also in the MCC squad for the matches are England's Monty Panesar and Sri Lankan wicket-keeper batsman Prasanna Jayawardene, as well as a host of bright young county talents, including Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond, Lancashire's Luis Reece and Middlesex opener Sam Robson - who has been on England Lions duty in Sri Lanka this winter.
Nottinghamshire trio Samit Patel, Andre Adams and England hopeful Harry Gurney are also included in the squad.
Left-arm opening bowler Gurney, a former Leeds/Bradford MCC University cricketer, has recently returned from Englands limited overs tour of the West Indies.
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson, who selected the teams, said: "MCC has seen some very positive results from past day-night Champion County matches and has provided the game with invaluable insight into the possibilities of playing floodlit Test cricket.
"The recent trials of pink cricket balls in floodlit Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia have continued this trend and MCC believes this will soon translate into day-night Test cricket, which will help to re-invigorate the five day international game in countries where attendances are low."
Muralitharan said it was a "huge privilege" for him to be asked to captain an MCC team.
"I was delighted to accept the invitation. We've got a very strong squad going out to Dubai for the competition so I'm looking forward to playing alongside them all.
"I always enjoy seeing new innovations in the game of cricket and it's very exciting to be playing with a pink ball. Hopefully, we'll see it develop even further after this tour," he said.
The full MCC squad travelling to Abu Dhabi is as follows: Virender Sehwag (India, captain), Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka, captain of T20 fixture only), Sam Robson (Middlesex and England Lions), Luis Reece (Lancashire and ex-Leeds/Bradford MCCU), Daniel Bell-Drummond (Kent), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire and England), Prassana Jayawardene (Sri Lanka), Ollie Rayner (Middlesex and England Lions), Andre Adams (Nottinghamshire), Harry Gurney (Nottinghamshire and ex-Leeds/Bradford MCCU), Kyle Hogg (Lancashire), Monty Panesar (Essex and England).