Compo, who recently signed for Middlesex, will resume his opening partnership with England captain Alistair Cook at the top of the order with Hildy set to bat at four.
The England Test captain made himself available for the trip in order to gain match practice ahead of England’s three-match Test series against the West Indies in April. The tour equally gives Compton a perfect opportunity to press his case for a recall to the Test side.
It’s also an ideal chance for Hildreth to make a strong start to the season after a disappointing 2014. Since representing the Lions, he has fallen off the England radar, but will not have given up hope of impressing the selectors this summer and he can be rightly proud of his selection for the MCC squad.
The MCC squad will arrive in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday 17 March before taking part in the Emirates T20 tournament on Friday 20 March in Dubai which also features Lancashire, Sussex and Yorkshire.
The four-day Champion County match – the annual curtain raiser for the English county season – starts on Sunday 22 March and will be a day/night match between MCC and Yorkshire, played with a pink ball under the MCC Spirit of Cricket banner.
As well as Cook and Compton, the MCC squad features two other players with Test experience in Hampshire’s Michael Carberry and Durham’s Graham Onions.
Somerset Director of Cricket Matt Maynard welcomed Hildy’s selection for the prestigious fixture: “I’m really pleased for James. It’s a really strong line-up this year and he deserves recognition like this. He has proved over a number of years that he is a top quality player and it wasn’t that long ago that he was captaining the England Lions. He is a very good pro and has been working extremely hard over the winter. This will be a good experience for him and will hopefully help him to hit the ground running in 2015.”
John Stephenson, MCC Head of Cricket, said: “This is certainly the strongest team we’ve ever selected for this fixture and it’s great to see a good number of MCC Universities alumni involved too.
“There’s an excellent blend of youth and experience, and I’m sure Nick Compton will lead the group expertly.
“Of course to have a batsman of Alastair Cook’s calibre involved shows the standing this fixture has in professional cricket and I’m delighted to have him at the top of the order.”
This will be Cook’s seventh appearance for MCC, his most famous coming as a 14-year-old in 1998 when he was drafted in to an MCC side who were one short and went on to score a century against Bedford School 1st XI.
The squad also features three alumni from MCC Universities in Sam Billings (Loughborough), Adam Riley (Loughborough) and Zafar Ansari (Cambridge).
Billings, Riley and Surrey fast bowler Matt Dunn, who also features in the MCC squad, have recently returned from England Lions duty in South Africa.
Nepal captain Paras Khadka will also be part of the MCC side for the Emirates T20 tournament.
The 27-year-old has captained his country since 2009, leading them through a number of ICC World Cricket League Divisions and eventually to last year’s ICC World Twenty20 competition in Bangladesh. In June 2014, Nepal were granted T20 International status by the ICC.
Next week, MCC will announce the name of an international T20 star who will also be part of the side for the Emirates T20 tournament.
Regarding the playing of the Champion County fixture in Abu Dhabi, Stephenson added: “We are pleased to be returning to Abu Dhabi and Dubai for a sixth year as the facilities are excellent for first class cricket and have produced some very competitive matches in recent years.
“MCC has played a big part in exploring the possibilities of day/night Test cricket played with a pink ball and we are hoping to see a day/night Test between Australia and New Zealand later this year.
“I’m sure these matches in March will show, once again, that pink ball cricket can re-invigorate the longer form of the game.”
The MCC squad for the Champion County match and Emirates T20 tournament:
- Nick Compton (captain) (Middlesex)
- Alastair Cook (Essex)
- Michael Carberry (Hampshire)
- James Hildreth (Somerset)
- Zafar Ansari (Surrey, Cambridge MCCU)
- Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire)
- Sam Billings (Kent, Loughborough MCCU)
- Matt Dunn (Surrey)
- Graham Onions (Durham)
- Adam Riley (Kent, Loughborough MCCU)
- Chris Rushworth (Durham)
- Paras Khadka (Nepal – *Emirates T20 tournament only)
Emirates T20 tournament
MCC v Yorkshire, Lancashire & Sussex
- Friday 20 March
- Dubai, The 7evens Ground
MCC v Yorkshire – Champion County match
- Sunday 22 – Wednesday 25 March
- Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Stadium