Dubai: Ireland skipper William Porterfield Friday thanked cricket administrators for giving players from associate countries a chance to play number one Test team England, hoping it will help them in the future.
The 27-year-old leads an International Cricket Council (ICC) Combined XI in a three-day match against an Andrew Strauss led England here from Saturday.
"I must commend the ICC for putting on a lot of work to get a fixture like this. It is obviously a great occasion and a chance for the boys to show that they can do it against a Test XI," said Porterfield.
The ICC Combined XI comprises players from associate countries like Ireland, Scotland, Namibia, Afghanistan and United Arab Emirates. The three-day match is one of two side games England will be playing ahead of their three-Test series against Pakistan.
The first Test starts here from January 17. Porterfield said all the players were excited about the idea of playing England who rose to world number one Test team after beating India 4-0 at home in August last year.
"There are a lot of good cricketers in associate teams and it is nice they belong to a plan and we are looking forward to that.
"It is extra special to play in the longer format of the game against the best team in the world and test our skills against them, it is a big opportunity to take a big step," he said.
Porterfield, a left-handed opener who also plays for Gloucestershire in the English season, said Combined XI players have a resolve to do well in the longer version.
"A lot of associate cricketers want to be in big shoes now. Over the last few days we have all gelled well though we have only played against each other," he said.
"We have good depth in batting and have players like Christi (Christi Viljoen) whom many haven't seen before, he is bit different," said Porterfield of the Namibian player.
"Hamid Hassan is one of the best associate bowlers I have seen. He has good skills both with the new ball and old ball," said Porterfield of the Afghanistan fast bowler.
Porterfield said associates were improving with time.
"We are improving all the time and there are a lot of associates that are on the right road," he said.
Ireland upset England in the 2011 World Cup on the back of a brilliant hundred from Kevin O'Brien.