Onions relishing MCC meeting

  • Last Updated: March 22 2014, 14:30 GMT

Graham Onions says he is looking forward to seeing how defending county champions Durham measure up ahead of the new season when they take on a strong MCC side in Abu Dhabi.

Graham Onions: Relishing MCC clash in Abu Dhabi
Graham Onions: Relishing MCC clash in Abu Dhabi

Durham have seen several experienced campaigners such as Dale Benkenstein, Will Smith and Callum Thorp leave over the winter, while England all-rounder Ben Stokes is set to be sidelined for at least the next six weeks through injury.

Meanwhile, title-winning captain Paul Collingwood has joined England's coaching staff and is currently with the national team in Bangladesh at the ICC World Twenty20.

Collingwood will still line-up for Durham this season, but the 37-year-old will not feature in the traditional first-class season curtain-raiser between the reigning county champions and an MCC XI, which starts on Sunday.

Nor will veteran all-rounder Gareth Breese, absent due to a family illness, so some of Durham's up-and-coming hopefuls, such as teenager Ryan Buckley and a trio of 21-year-olds Usman Arshad, Paul Coughlin and Rammy Singh, could get the chance to press their claims ahead of the new season.

If they do feature in the four-day game they will come up against a strong MCC line-up that will be captained by India star Virender Sehwag and includes the likes of Samit Patel, Monty Panesar, Andre Adams, Harry Gurney and Sam Robson.

Durham paceman Onions believes it will be a good match-up, and said: "They've picked a very good side, as they generally do.

"But equally, our team is very good as well, we've got a good blend of youth and experience and it's going to be interesting to see where we are."