A strong MCC side made-up from county and MCC University players will leave for the United Arab Emirates as MCC step-up their testing of the pink cricket ball.

The Club will play a total of seven matches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman.

MCC will play all their games on their first tour of 2010 using pink balls.

A 16-man squad departs for a two-week trip to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Muscat. They will play five 50-over and two Twenty20 games, and further test the pink ball in Middle Eastern conditions, ahead of the historic Champion County match against Durham which begins in Abu Dhabi on 29 March.

The MCC squad is managed by the Club's current Chairman of Cricket - and former Sussex captain and wicket-keeper/batsman - Mike Griffith, and captained by former Somerset all-rounder Keith Dutch.

Dutch will captain a team with strong links with MCC youth cricket, with nine having been part of either the MCC Young Cricketers (YCs) or the MCC Universities systems.

Former YC Will Gidman - whose brother Alex will captain MCC against Durham in March - makes the trip, alongside Alex's Gloucestershire team-mate and former YC Steve Snell.

Current MCC Universities players on the trip include Tom Allin (Cardiff MCCU) and Eddie Ballard (Cambridge MCCU).

They will be joined by graduates of the system, David Balcombe (Durham MCCU and now Hampshire), twin brothers Arfan and Adnan Akram (Cambridge MCCU) and Jonathan Wightman (Durham MCCU).

Worcestershire's Kadeer Ali will add his class to the top of the order and will hope he doesn't receive any early marching orders from MCC's umpire, former England batsman Tim Robinson.

The first three matches will be played in the Zayed International Stadium - home of Abu Dhabi CC and host of the Champion County game.

Two of these three games will be played under floodlights.

MCC then head to Dubai to play two 50 over games and provide coaching for local youngsters, before finishing off the tour with two matches against Oman in Muscat.

MCC is committed to developing cricket in non-Test playing nations and will donate a grant of US$2,500 to be shared between the Abu Dhabi and Oman Cricket Associations. ICC will also donate US$1,250.

It is the first time since 2004 that MCC has toured the region.