Gloucestershire v Australia A, Bristol, 2nd day June 22, 2013

Bad day for Ashes hopefuls


Gloucestershire 122 (Sayers 5-24) and 162 for 3 (Dent 56) need 159 runs to beat Australia A 331 for 4 declared and 111 (Gidman 4-25)

Driving to Bristol for a round of pre-Ashes preparatory talks with a strong overnight score in their minds, Australia's coach Mickey Arthur and the team performance manager Pat Howard could have been forgiven for expecting more encouraging developments on their arrival. Instead the sunshine and good cheer of day one was to be replaced by far grimmer stuff - and not just because the weather in Bristol had turned from balmy to a chill wind and grey sky.

Having rounded up the remainder of the Gloucestershire first innings for the addition of only 18 more runs, Australia A folded quite heedlessly for 111 in the second innings after declining to enforce the follow-on. This offered the hosts an unexpected window into the match, one left well and truly open by a stumps score of 162 for 3 in pursuit of 321.

Arthur and Howard have a few issues in front of them, but the form of the batsmen to join the Ashes squad in Taunton on Monday is a mounting one. As far as Ashes preparations were concerned, this was a far from satisfactory day. Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes were unable to register scores of any note, while the likely first reserve batsman Steve Smith edged the seaming ball to be out for a duck. The trio had been promoted to Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the batting order in an effort to give them some quality batting time, but none was to be had by anyone.

Even Nic Maddinson, so impudent during his first-day 181, was cut down to size, flicking a catch down the leg side to depart first ball. Maddinson was one of four wickets for Will Gidman, who capitalised on the more generous allocation of swing and seam provided by overcast skies and a pitch freshened by overnight moisture.

Gloucestershire were also aided by a pair of run-outs, each a direct hit from James Fuller, who roamed the deep and caught, first Khawaja and then Jordan Silk, short of their ground. Such charity from the visitors will not have pleased the bowlers, who soon found themselves defending a smaller advantage than had seemed possible when Smith chose to have another bat.

So poor was Australia A's innings in fact that the top score went to Matthew Wade with 28, his runs scored either side of a painful blow to the groin that forced the wicketkeeper to his haunches for several minutes. Ashton Agar was next best with 27, demonstrating, albeit briefly, that his languid athletic talent is not limited to slow left-arm spin. Nonetheless, a scoreboard reading 88 for 8 and then concluding on "Nelson" does not bode well for numerologists nor Australian Ashes optimists.

To be in the field again within 35.1 overs of dismissing Gloucestershire the first time did not appear to agree with several of the Australia A bowlers, who with few exceptions had been much sharper when the day began. Ryan Harris induced an outside edge from Gidman in the first over of the morning, before Fawad Ahmed offered evidence of his legspin's bite by having Benny Howell pouched at slip, then fizzing his next ball past Tom Smith's outside edge.

Neither Harris nor Ahmed would be quite so compelling in the afternoon, which also provided a lesson for Chadd Sayers, the South Australian seam and swing operative. Having nipped out two wickets in his first over of the day to claim the handsome figures of 5 for 24, Sayers looked considerably short of rhythm and accuracy when he returned. He did improve later on and added the wickets of Chris Dent and Dan Housego, but Gloucestershire were by then growing in confidence.

They reached the close with Gareth Roderick accompanied by Dan Christian, who appeared intent on getting the better of his countrymen while sprinting to 40 from 42 balls in the final hour. He took a particular liking to the spin of Ahmed, taking 35 runs from the 31 balls he faced. As they pondered whether to expand the size of the Ashes squad by one or two on Sunday, that was yet another reason for Arthur and Howard's brows to furrow.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2013, 15:33 GMT

    So the Aussie A side in the UK have so far achieved the exact opposite of the England A side in Australia. While the England A side couldn't win a single match and looked like a bunch of hopeless, hapless amateurs the Aussie A side have won every match and generally looked pretty good. They've shuffled around their batting and bowling attacks at times, which has on occasions caused a bit of instability... but all in all I'd give them a solid B.

  • Tim on June 23, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    Easy win, numbers don't show it but given we declared 4 down in innings 1 and gave far more overs to a struggling Ahmed than we normally would it was a walk in the park. Our bowlers are finding some form even if a lot of our batsmen aren't. Hughes is in serious danger of losing his spot when Rogers comes in. Obvious highlights are Maddinson and Sayers but I think Agar is a great find too. He's definitely leaped ahead of Ahmed. Bring on some better competition, England's depth doesn't look great at the moment.

  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    @ffl.On the contrary;Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris found some form in the second innings and took wickets under pressure and 'little known' Chadd Sayers is is in red hot form (albeit with more recent gametime than both bird and Harris). On the off chance that Ryan Harris and Jackson bird dont reach the same heights as Sayers in the 2 warm up games (a very big if considering their track record)it is always an option for the selectors to draft the number 1 shield wicket taker into the squad. He is also very handy to have up our sleeves in case of injury. I very much doubt that England have any bowling reserves even near the same quality. Keep disrespecting Jackson Bird all you want by feminising his name however his name will cause England fans much pain if not now in England (because of our vast bowling depth) certainly in the Australian leg.How much pain?...Just ponder the name Glenn McGrath (OUCH!)and how he strangled England with relentless accuracy to give you some idea.

  • Dylan on June 23, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    Besides Maddinson, Australia A were completely useless with the bat. No questions have been answered regarding the Ashes batting line-up. Agar didn't get much of a run for the second straight match, mostly because they wanted to see if Ahmed was actually any good, and as expected, he wasn't, and will play no roll in the Ashes. Agar does look to be an exciting prospect, but I certainly wouldn't be giving him a run in the Ashes, and instead continue to develop him on these A-tours and in the shield. Stick with Lyon for the Ashes and if he completely fails O'Keefe should be given the nod, but Agar will more than likely be thrown in the deep end and fail. Harris and Bird both had reasonable figures and should be good to play a roll in the Ashes. However, I can't help but worry about having a pace attack that includes both Pattinson and Harris. Atleast one of them will go down with injury during a match for sure.

  • j on June 23, 2013, 13:03 GMT

    A match that surprised no one. Jaquline Bird and Harris were totally out-bowled by a little known guy called Sayers, and this just topped an all-round disaster for Australia. Another one, unfortunately. Phil Hughes yet again failed in both innings, with Wade/Khawaja predictably proving inept. Ahmed was smashed around the park also, he hasn't even come up against any decent batsman yet in his career, how he'll be expected to perform in a test match I have no idea. This is a terrible lead up to the Ashes for Oz.

  • Scott on June 23, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    Easy win in the end after declaring in the first innings...not so great for all the big talkers...@poms_have_short_memories, Exactly! The England A team that came to Aus were useless and lost every single match.

  • Scott on June 23, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    @Optic, Really? I think you'll find that the majority on here seem to think England need only walk out onto the field to win the Ashes...Also, it was a much more likely result that Aus A would win given the way that wickets were tumbling. As I write, they're 9 down with 50 runs to get, but credit to them, they're fighting in this last wicket. As for your lol, it's clear that you think we'd be easily beaten - if I've tarred all with the same brush, it's likely your not exactly collateral damage.

  • Dummy4 on June 23, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    After this game it is fairly clear that Fawad was given undue (positive and negative) attention due to his unique personal circumstances and that Agar is a better player. A couple of poor performances by Lyon and Agar would be expected to be given a trial to see what he can do in the big leagues. He is very impressive and hasn't put a foot wrong all year.

  • Cricinfouser on June 23, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    @poms_have_short_memories - All this talk about reserve strength is just that - talk. Until they have to walk out onto the field in an Ashes test, we've no idea whether some Australians who have apparently excelled against Irish and Westcountry 2nd XIs are any better than their English equivalents who were absolutely hopeless in a few one day matches.

  • Sriraj on June 23, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    I was just looking at a replay of Khawaja's run-out on Youtube and that was a DREADFUL decision. He was past the stumps before the keeper knocked them down and there's no way umpires would be allowed to give that out. It is fair enough to blame the whole collapse on a poor umpiring call!

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