A new method is proposed for modelling spherically symmetric inhomogeneities in the Universe. The inhomogeneities have finite size and are compensated, so they do not exert any measurable gravitational force beyond their boundary. The region exterior to the perturbation is represented by a Friedmann-Robertson-Walker (FRW) universe, which we use to study the anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) induced by the cluster. All calculations are performed in a single, global coordinate system, with non-linear gravitational effects fully incorporated. An advantage of the gauge choices employed here is that the resultant equations are essentially Newtonian in form. Examination of the problem of specifying initial data shows that the new model presented here has many advantages over `Swiss cheese' and other models. Numerical implementation of the equations derived here is described in a subsequent paper.