x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

LIVE: Session updates of ICC Combined XI v England XI

Strauss in the runs as stuttering England make a winning start to their tour of the UAE.

Craig Williams, left, the ICC Combined XI bowler, celebrates the dismissal of England XI’s Alastair Cook in Dubai yesterday. They lost the game but drew praise from Andrew Strauss, the opposing captain.
Craig Williams, left, the ICC Combined XI bowler, celebrates the dismissal of England XI’s Alastair Cook in Dubai yesterday. They lost the game but drew praise from Andrew Strauss, the opposing captain.

There was a notable clue to the contrasting team spirit within the ICC Combined XI’s ranks, when the assorted group of Scotsmen, Irishmen, Afghans and Namibians pressed for victory against England on Monday afternoon.

With the Test nation requiring 60 more runs to win their opening tour match, with just four wickets left, Paul Stirling, the Irish batsman, shelled a throw in to Mohammed Shahzad, his wicketkeeper, from close range.

The return was a little too toasty for the liking of the spiky Afghan gloveman, who appeared to give him a mouthful for throwing the ball at such speed from close range.

Stirling was apparently sent to Coventry, at least for the duration of the 22-yard walk to the other end of the pitch. By which point the wicketkeeper realised he had to ask for his cap back from his Irish colleague, who had been looking after it for him.

For much of the ICC’s highly successful experiment, which saw them cobble the leading non-Test players together into one side, William Porterfield, the captain, probably felt like a United Nations peacekeeper.

Perhaps the Northern Irishman should be next in line to succeed Ban Ki-moon. His scratch XI were just three wickets away from forcing an unforeseen win against the leading Test nation, which represented a fine three days’ work.

“The way the lads came together and fought over the three days was the most pleasing thing to me,” Porterfield said.

“When we were 90 for six at lunch on day one, it could have been easy to roll over, but it was a top knock by Christi [Viljoen] under pressure against the No 1 side in the world, to get us up to 260.

“Even when [Andrew] Strauss got going, we still fought back and kept taking wickets at regular intervals, and put England on the back foot. We kept believing we could win the game.”

Mudassar Nazar, who took charge of the select XI this week, said both sides should be praised for the competitiveness of the fixture.

“In the past, England could have been guilty of just treating this game as a practice match, but this is a very different team,” the former Pakistan player said.

“They are a very confident team. They want to win every match when they go out there, so it worked out well for us because we were in the same frame of mind.”

Strauss, the captain who made 78 for England, acknowledged that the Associate players had shown up some flaws in his side.

“They committed themselves fully and they gave us a thorough workout,” Strauss said.

“If we are honest, our batting in the first innings should have been better. There is plenty for us to work on, we are not going to pretend this was perfect by any means. Hopefully we can raise the level against Pakistan A.”