Worcestershire to play Ireland in warm-up game in Abu Dhabi

Worcestershire's pre-season training a year ago amounted to practising under a big tent in Kidderminster.

On Friday, preparations for the new county cricket season will begin in a rather more 21st-Century manner.

They will be in Abu Dhabi to play Ireland in a Twenty20 warm-up game.

Without England's latest one-day international Moeen Ali and Pakistan Test spinner Saeed Ajmal and England Under-19 duo Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard, Worcestershire have a 17-man squad.

A month to go

Worcestershire's County Championship season starts on Sunday 6 April with a trip to Southampton to face Hampshire

The county will play three other Twenty20 matches, against the Netherlands, New Zealand and Derbyshire on their 11-day trip.

They are also scheduled to face a 50-over game with Derbyshire and a two-day match, as well as undergoing warm-weather training at the Zayed Stadium, before flying back on 15 March.

Ireland are in the Persian Gulf as part of their preparations for the ICC World Twenty 20, starting on 17 March.

Meanwhile, back in rain-hit Worcester, after another costly winter of extreme flooding at their New Road home, which left the playing surface submerged for two months, Worcestershire's assets have been given a significant pre-season injection by landing a new shirt sponsorship deal with a local hot tub manufacturer.

The county's cash flow will be improved after signing a three-year six-figure contract with Hartlebury-based Arctic Spas, who were Worcestershire's Twenty20 sponsors last season.

Worcestershire (from): D K H Mitchell (capt), G M Andrew, G Cessford, S H Choudhry, O B Cox, T C Fell, N L Harrison, A Hepburn, A N Kervezee, T Kohler-Cadmore, J Leach, C A J Morris, M G Pardoe, C J Russell, J D Shantry, R A Whiteley, B L D'Oliveira.

Ireland (from): W T S Porterfield (Warwickshire) capt, A R Cusack (Clontarf), G H Dockrell (Somerset), E C Joyce (Sussex), A R McBrine (Donemana), T J Murtagh (Middlesex), K J O'Brien (Railway Union), N J O'Brien (Leicestershire), A D Poynter (Clontarf), M C Sorensen (The Hills), J N K Shannon (Instonians), P R Stirling (Middlesex), S R Thompson (Eglinton), G C Wilson (Surrey), C A Young (Bready).