England Learning Disabilities Team head off on SA tour

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ECB England Learning Disabilities Team were given a send-off for their tour to South Africa by ECB chief executive David Collier, who attended their departure meal at a Heathrow hotel.

The players and management were each given an England tie to mark the special event, along with a good luck message that had been forwarded from Michael Vaughan prior to his departure to Pakistan.

The message read: “To the England Cricket Team, I am writing to wish you the very best of luck for your tour to South Africa in November, for the Tri-Nation tour against South Africa and Australia. I am sure it will be a fantastic experience and a hard- fought competition.

“I believe that this is the first officially recognised tour for players with Learning Disabilities and I am sure you are all incredibly proud of being selected to play for England. Good luck and have a great tour!”

Following a long flight down to South Africa the squad had their first full training session at the magnificent setting of Boland Park where their first game on Friday 11 will take place against South Africa.

All the squads took part in the official opening ceremony held at the Hotel Cape Rendezvous, which was addressed by the chief executive of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, Ray Mali, on Wednesday evening.

The first inaugural match ever between two international sides with Learning Difficulties from South Africa and Australia took place on Thursday 10 at Bellville Cricket Grounds, which saw Australia win comfortably. Australia batted first scoring 139 in 32 overs; in reply South Africa could only manage 46 mainly due to the bowling of Brett Wilson taking 4-8.

Having completed their final practice session the England team to face South Africa in their first match will be:

Lee Jay (Hampshire, capt, wkt), Ronnie Abbott (Cheshire, vice capt), Peter Brown (Isle of Wight) Ikhlaq Ahmed (Warwickshire), Bilal Ali (Middlesex), Mark O’Brian (Cheshire), Douglas Randall (Isle of Wight), Allun Hughes (Yorkshire), Danny West (Hampshire), Idris Saeed, Amar Aziz (both Warwickshire).