Alastair Cook began his Ashes year by top-scoring with 35 for MCC, but it was county champions Yorkshire who kicked off their season by winning the Emirates Airline t20 in Dubai.
Cook, who caused a stir this week when he claimed England’s decision to replace him as World Cup captain had been proved “probably wrong” after their early exit from the tournament, had the chance to let his bat do the talking.
England’s Test captain played fluently at the top of the order in MCC’s semi-final against three-time winners and defending champions Sussex, with six fours and a six from just 26 balls, before he was caught at long on by Luke Wells off left-arm seamer Chris Liddle.
But chasing 165 for victory, MCC finished on 146 for nine.
Sussex were therefore through to Friday’s final of the pre-season competition against Yorkshire, who had beaten Roses rivals Lancashire Lightning by 21 runs thanks to a half-century from Jonny Bairstow.
Matthew Hobden gave the Sharks a fantastic start to the final with the wickets of Adam Lyth, Alex Lees first ball and then Bairstow in his first over.
But Andrew Hodd (79no), against his old club, and Jack Leaning (51no) shared an unbroken stand of 99 in the Vikings’ 176 for four.
Sussex’s reply was soon in trouble - and they could not get competitive on the way to 102 all out, as Adil Rashid celebrated his return to the England fold with four wickets.
Cook will play for the MCC again in a four-day match against Yorkshire, the traditional curtain-raiser to the English summer which has been transported from Lord’s to the United Arab Emirates in recent years and will begin on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
England, who on Wednesday selected a 16-man squad for three Tests against West Indies, will fly to the Caribbean at the start of next month.