The players at the ICC Winter Training Camp (ICC WTC) got their one-day match schedule off to a successful start with two victories over Highveld Strikers in Liberty Life Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.

Having spent four weeks at the camp, the victories will provide the 24-man squad with plenty of confidence as they prepare for a further six tough matches in South Africa, before returning to their national squads in the build up to the ICC World Cricket League Division 1 and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 with both events set for early next year.

In the opening game of the two-match series, the ICC WTC were pushed by a strong Highveld Strikers side but eventually earned a four-wicket victory with 10 balls to spare.

The Strikers, who were put in to bat by the ICC, lost wickets at regular intervals as they were restricted to 229 all out off 49.3 overs. Canadian Abdool Samad was the pick of the ICC WTC bowlers, taking 4-43, while Scotsman Ross Lyons also impressed, ending with figures of 3-16.

In reply, solid partnerships from left-handed opener William Porterfield of Ireland, firstly with Kenya's Morris Ouma (right) and then Dutchman Alex Kervezee, set the ICC WTC on the way to victory. But it was Irishman Kevin O'Brien who stole the show, hitting an unbeaten 71 in just 78 balls to see his side home.

In the second match of the series, which was also played at the Liberty Life Wanderers Stadium, the ICC WTC wasted a fine start to their innings, following a partnership of 133 between Kenny Carroll (Ireland, right) and Ashish Bagai (Canada), to collapse to 202-9 off their 50 overs.

Just 51 runs were added in the final 13 overs of the innings and eight wickets fell, with Canadia's Sunil Dhaniram the only other batsman to register double figures.

But then, with the pressure on to deliver, the ICC WTC bowlers did not disappoint. Some excellent bowling from Bermuda's Kevin Hurdle (3-50), helped reduce Highveld Strikers to 98-6 in reply, before the home side rallied.

However three more quick wickets proved terminal for the Strikers and despite a valiant stand of 27 for the last wicket, John Mooney claimed the last wicket to seal an ICC WTC victory by eight runs, with four overs still remaining.

This is the second year of the ICC Winter Training Camp, which is being held in the high performance centre, Pretoria, and involves 24 players, four from each of the top six Associate countries. The camp is designed to improve all aspects of players' games from technique and fitness to self-knowledge, one-day tactics and mental strength. The players have been lucky enough this year to receive expert coaching from such well-respected figures as Rod Marsh, Gary Kirsten, Mark Lane and Kepler Wessels, as well as head coach Tim Boon, a former member of the England coaching set-up and now the coach of English county side Leicestershire. The seven-week camp continues until November 17.

ICC Winter Training Camp, remaining fixtures

  • November 8 v Northerns at LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria
  • November 10 v Northerns at LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria
  • November 12 v North-West at Sedgers Park, Potchefstroom
  • November 13 (day/night) v North-West, Sedgers Park, Potchefstroom
  • November 15 v Northerns, LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria
  • November 16 v Northerns, LC de Villiers Oval, Pretoria