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31st March 2008

Onions To Represent MCC

MCC have named a strong side for the traditional domestic season opener against the LV County Champions, Sussex, at Lord’s. England Lions captain Ed Joyce will lead a team that includes fellow senior internationals Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, Graham Onions and James Foster.

Completing a squad chosen in association with the England selectors, Loughborough UCCE and Surrey batsman Arun Harinath will become the fourth successive MCC Universities cricketer to feature in the season-opening fixture.

Keith Bradshaw, MCC’s Secretary & Chief Executive, said:
“The champion county fixture is one that is greatly anticipated by everyone at MCC.  Heralding the start of the English cricket season, this match is the first of around 450 that we will play in the UK this year against schools, clubs and touring sides.  It’s a time when Mick Hunt and his team put the finishing touches to the ground and practice facilities, and there’s a general buzz of excitement about the place.  It might be two-jumper weather but we can’t wait for the cricket to begin at Lord’s.”

John Stephenson, MCC’s Head of Cricket, who played in this fixture in 2005 and 2006, said:
“We’re looking forward to the season starting in what promises to be another busy year for MCC cricket.  This match is a great opportunity for Arun Harinath to show his talent and by association highlight the depth of skill to be found in the MCC Universities.  He’ll learn a great deal from playing with Ed, Owais and the others, and will hope to use it as a springboard for success.  This happened last year when an outstanding performance from Adil Rashid was the catalyst for a very good season, culminating in him being voted the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Cricketer of the Year.”

MCC Captain, Ed Joyce, said:
“It is an honour to be asked to captain the MCC team against Sussex, and it’s a match I’m greatly looking forward to.  With the spotlight on this game, it’s a chance for all of the guys to get some early season form and make the England selectors sit up and take notice.  There will be a lot of determined cricketers at Lord’s, and you can expect a very competitive match as a result.”

Guy Jackson, ECB’s Operations Manager, who will oversee the MCC team, said:
“The season-opening fixture at Lord’s is not only a hugely valuable exercise for the England coaching team and selectors but it’s a great opportunity for all the players to put in a good performance and take it into the county season.  There is a healthy competition for places in the England Test side, which is as it should be, and the selectors will be casting a keen eye on all the contenders between now and May.”

The MCC squad to play against the Champion County, Sussex, is as follows:

Ed Joyce, captain (Middlesex)
Ravi Bopara (Essex)
Michael Carberry (Hampshire)
James Foster, (Essex)
Steven Finn (Middlesex)
Arun Harinath (Loughborough UCCE and Surrey)
Steven Kirby (Gloucestershire)
Graham Onions (Durham)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Alan Richardson (Middlesex)
Owais Shah (Middlesex)
James Tredwell (Kent)