MCC tramples on tradition to trial pink ball in Abu Dhabi

In one fell swoop decades of tradition were swept away by MCC yesterday. The annual match against the champion county, the regular curtain raiser to the English season, will take place as usual but it will be played at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi instead of Lord's, and it will be played with a pink ball under floodlights rather than with a red ball on a freezing cold day.

The ditching of the freezing cold day may offend many who like to trundle along to the match in overcoats and mufflers but the use of lights and a pink ball is the genuine revolution. MCC has been at the forefront of experimenting with pink balls in the hope that one day soon they will be used in floodlit Test matches.

The game against the county champions, Durham, will start on 29 March and is seen as the ideal inaugural event. If a success, MCC will take the case for day-night Test matches to the International Cricket Council.

MCC's head of cricket, John Stephenson, said: "Ultimately, this match is being played in Abu Dhabi for two reasons. Firstly, we felt that the proposed fixture schedule for Lord's, 3 April to 6 April, was far too early in the year to play meaningful cricket, with poor weather a very likely possibility.

"Secondly, we've been asking cricket authorities 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 are determined to grasp it."

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