Derbyshire County Cricket Club will face the international quality of New Zealand as part of their first ever pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.
The squad will fly to the United Arab Emirates on Friday 7th March and will spend nine days based at the state of the art Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium before returning on Sunday 16th March.
Following four consecutive visits to Barbados, Derbyshire were originally planning to spend their entire pre-season in the UK.
However, following the introduction of the new Elite Performance model, Elite Cricket Performance Director Graeme Welch and his team are keen to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running when the new season commences in April.
A recent review of cost management throughout the Club unlocked some additional funds to make the tour a possibility, but the support from supporters and local businesses has also helped bring the trip a little closer to reality.
The players are so committed to finding the remaining funds for the tour that they have arranged their own fundraising event, an Invitation Players’ Luncheon with guest speaker, former Derbyshire legend and England selector, Geoff Miller OBE, which will take place on Wednesday 5th March to help meet the cost of the trip.
The squad will play a combination of two-day, 50-over and Twenty20 matches against opposition including Worcestershire and the Kiwis, who have chosen Abu Dhabi as their base ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
As well as the matches themselves, Abu Dhabi will also provide a warm weather backdrop to the intense regime of Elite Performance Training that is already preparing Derbyshire for the 2014 campaign.
Elite Cricket Performance Director, Graeme Welch said: “I’m delighted that the players are passionate about their own preparations and have made themselves accountable for raising funds.
“They see the importance in getting cricket under their belts and preparing for the new season in an elite and professional sporting environment.
“All the facilities we need will be available. It’s a Test match venue and also the home of the Champion County versus MCC game for the past few years.
“The whole thing should give us real impetus for a good start to the season.”
A full itinerary and more information regarding the Invitation Players’ Luncheon on 5th March will be announced in the coming weeks.
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