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High hopes for Learning Disability team

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Coach Bobby Denning gives ECBtv the low-down on his squad of players

The England Learning Disability team fly out to Melbourne on Friday to compete against South Africa and Australia in the hope of winning the third Tri-nations tournament.

With South Africa hosting it in 2005 and England in 2007, this is a first for Australia. Pressure is on the home side to retain the title for the third time in a row, but England are hot on their heels confident they will be triumphant.

England will take over a 15-man squad with three changes from the 2007 series - the inclusion of Tom Savage, Chris Edwards and James Higgins. This will be their first major international series for England and a captaincy debut in a tournament of this scale for Gav Randall.

Allun Hughes

Allun Hughes is part of the 15-man squad which will travel to Australia on Friday for the third Tri-nations tournament

National disability cricket manager Ian Martin has every faith in the side.

“The squad are all really looking forward to the tournament," he said. "It has been over two years in the planning - we have some new faces both in the squad and on the coaching and management side. Everybody is looking forward to the challenge.

“We feel we have the strongest squad that we have ever entered the tri-series with, and are determined to improve on our performances in the last two tournaments. There is no bigger challenge to an English cricketer than going to Australia, and we are well up for the task ahead.”

During the tournament they will face both teams twice in a points-based league. After all the games have been played the top two will go head to head. Previous finals have both been between Australia and South Africa, but this year England are confident they will reach the final stages to bring back the trophy.

The players have spent this season playing in the County Championship for Physical and Learning Disabilities, with some playing in non-disability teams.

In preparation for the series they have been training across two regional camps in Portsmouth and Old Trafford, meeting monthly for full day sessions.

They have also had friendlies against 12th Men, Hollybank, Meonstoke, Portsmouth Community CC and Zombies clubs, against Hampshire and Cheshire as well as a district South East Hampshire U17 side.

The team fly out on November 27 and return on December 13.

England squad

Gav Randall (Hampshire, captain)
Pete Brown (Isle of Wight)
Danny West (Hampshire)
Lee Jay (Hampshire)
Lee Stenning (Essex)
John Taylor (Yorkshire)
Mark O’Brien (Cheshire/Wirral)
Chris Edwards (Cheshire/Wirral)
Kyle Topping (Lancashire)
James Dickens (Somerset)
Allun Hughes (Yorkshire)
Jonny Simpson (Lancashire)
Doug Randall (Isle of Wight)
Tom Savage (Northamptonshire)
James Higgins (Hampshire)