The traditional curtain-raiser to the English county season will take place in Galle, one day after the conclusion of England’s first Test against Sri Lanka at the same venue, MCC has announced.
MCC will take on Essex, the champion county, in a four-day fixture from March 24-27, in a fixture that has been a staple of the English season since 1970, and which has in recent years been held in Abu Dhabi, Barbados and Dubai.
The MCC side will be led by the former Sri Lanka captain, Kumar Sangakkara, who on October 1 began his one-year term as the club’s first overseas president. The club will also stage its annual World Cricket Committee meeting during the stop-over, to coincide with the ongoing England tour.
The decision to choose Galle as the venue is likely to prove popular with England’s touring fans, many of whom may be persuaded to stay on at the iconic coastal venue for an extra few days, before travelling north to Colombo for the second Test against Sri Lanka which begins on March 27, the final day of the MCC match.
“The Champion County match is an important part of MCC’s commitment to maintaining a strong presence in the long-form game both domestically and globally,” John Stephenson, MCC’s head of cricket, said.
“As always, MCC will put out a talented and exciting team in this fixture, providing strong opposition for this season’s County Championship winners. MCC would like to thank Sri Lanka Cricket for their support, co-operation and enthusiasm in hosting this fixture and we are excited to be working closely with them.”
During the visit, members of MCC’s team will visit the MCC Centre of Excellence near Galle, which is funded by the club having been set up by the Foundation of Goodness in the wake of the 2004 tsunami to provide sustainable facilities to the surrounding communities.
“It is hugely important to support cricket in countries such as Sri Lanka and taking the Champion County match to Galle is a fantastic way for the Club to provide its backing for the game on a global level,” Sangakkara said.
“With England touring the country during the same period, this will make for an exciting sequence of events in Sri Lanka and, as one of the best cricketing destinations in the world, it will be a wonderful occasion for all involved. I am looking forward to playing for and indeed captaining the MCC team, which will be full of exciting young talent ready to challenge the County Champions.”
Shammi Silva, SLC president, said: “Sri Lanka Cricket wish to thank MCC for choosing Sri Lanka as its venue to play the MCC Champion County Match in 2020, which we consider as an honour and a privilege bestowed upon the cricket loving public of our country. We are happy to be the host of this historic encounter, which marks the curtain-raiser to the new English domestic season. It is also very fitting that this team is led by none other than our own Kumar Sangakkara, who has recently become the first non-British MCC President.”
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