England’s opponents for the warmup matches in the UAE were finally announced today and the first match will be against a combined Associates and Affiliate XI led by Irish captain William Porterfield. It’ll only be a warmup match, of course, but it’s still a rather interesting matchup. There are three Irish players in the AM XI, Boyd Rankin and George Dockrell are playing alongside their national captain, and all played in Ireland’s World Cup victory over England last march. (And it wouldn’t be impossible for all three to play for England at some point in the future.) Thee are also two Scotsmen in the side, so the home nations are well represented. The match will be in Dubai and will be followed by a match against a PCB XI at a venue still to be decided.
The AM XI looks like a pretty strong side compared to the usual opponents in a tour match, which is a good thing I think. England have not played Test cricket in some time and it would not do for them to be rusty going into a series against a side who have been playing very well recently. It’s also nice to see the tour fixtures sorted at all since it’s only a month now until the first Test. I can hardly wait.