This is the time of year when, traditionally, the Champion County meets the MCC at Lord's, it rains, no one turns up to watch and everyone who dislikes the domestic game has a good chuckle. No longer.
The annual curtain-raiser has decamped to Abu Dhabi where Durham, champions for the past two seasons, will meet an MCC side boasting experience in the form of Mark Ramprakash and promise in the diminutive shape of James Taylor, Leicestershire's talented 20-year-old batsman.
Taylor, perhaps England's batsman of tomorrow, will be playing in a contest that could point the way for the cricket of the future. At least that's what Keith Bradshaw, the chief executive of the MCC, thinks. Today's match will be played under floodlights with a pink ball, innovations Bradshaw welcomes.
"If the ball stacks up here, performs well, holds its shine and shape and the players have good visibility, then that's as good a test as any," he said in Abu Dhabi. "I would like to think that if the tests go well and the ball stacks up that we could implement this fairly quickly.
"The research we undertook showed there was a willingness among fans to attend day-night Test cricket. I would encourage the ICC and other boards that if the trial goes well, let's implement it as soon as we can. If it stacks up and we get good reports, then why not?"
Taylor will not be the only talented young batsman on display in this match. Ben Stokes, who was one of England's shining lights at this year's Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand, hit 81 from 40 balls here on Friday to help Durham overcome the UAE in the final of a competition known, somewhat grandly, as the Emirates Airline Forty40 title. By the end of the season, he and Durham could well be celebrating victory in a rather more important competition.