England XI suffer heavy defeat
Prime Minister's XI 347 for 5 (Jaques 112) beat England XI 181 (Tait 3-21) by 166 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shaun Tait stormed into the first Test calculations with a withering fast bowling performance as England XI succumbed to a 166-run defeat in their opening Ashes tour match at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.
England XI were hammered for a record 347 for 5 off 50 overs by a Prime Minister's XI and in reply they were skittled for just 181 off 38.4 overs. It was a worrying performance with the first of the five Ashes Tests, at Brisbane, just 13 days away.
Tait, little used in his two Tests in last year's Ashes series, threw down his challenge for the third fast-bowling slot behind Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee with explosive figures of 3 for 21 from eight overs. He worked up a full head of steam with his slingy action and claimed the prized wicket of Andrew Flintoff for one.
The day had began poorly for England, with opener Phil Jaques leading the charge with dashing 112 after the PM's XI were sent into bat by Flintoff. It was the highest score by a PM's XI team against a touring side, surpassing the 334 for 5 against India in 1999.
In reply, only vice-captain Andrew Strauss looked the part with some sweetly timed shots before he went for 67. Marcus Trescothick, back from a stress-related break, faced just three balls before he edged Tait to second slip for two while Alastair Cook's mis-timed pull off Ben Hilfenhaus landed in the hands of keeper to wicketkeeper Tim Paine for four.
Paul Collingwood looked set before he found Jaques at deep mid-wicket off legspinner Cameron White for 35. Collingwood put on 58 for the third wicket with Strauss. Strauss reached his half-century off 50 balls, showing exquisite timing but was annoyed with himself when he tried to hook Tait, only to offer a simple catch to Hilfenhaus at mid-on. His runs came off as many balls and his innings included 12 fours to all parts of the ground.
Kevin Pietersen perished to an ill-judged hook shot, top-edging Hilfenhaus to Paine for seven before Tait bowled Flintoff two balls later. Flintoff was beaten by Tait's sheer pace to have his stumps spreadeagled. Very next ball Ashley Giles survived a huge shout for lbw with Tait down on his knees, beseeching the umpire. Giles was eventually run-out by White for 13. Sajid Mahmood was stumped down the leg-side off White for 22. Anderson was lbw to local player Adam Ritchard for a duck. Monty Panesar was last man out for one, with wicketkeeper Geraint Jones unbeaten on 13.
Earlier, Test opener-in-waiting Phil Jaques gave Australian selectors more food for thought with an impressive century. Jaques, who has the obstacle of long-time incumbents Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden blocking his way into the Australian Test team, hit nine boundaries and two sixes in his breezy knock off 110 balls. He gave only one chance, on 21, when he was put down by Jones off Anderson, before he holed out to Cook in the deep off Collingwood in the 37th over.
The runs flowed late in the innings, with 112 runs coming off the last 10 overs. Shaun Marsh hit an unbeaten 78 off 56 balls; Travis Birt smacked 40 off 45 balls; and Adam Voges chipped in with 39 off 32 balls. The PM's XI batsmen smashed a total of eight sixes in the innings, with skipper White helping himself to three of them in an unbeaten 30 off 14 balls.
England had something to smile about as Flintoff, whose ankle has been under the scanner , was the pick of their bowlers, going for just 10 runs in his first five overs, eventually ending with 1 for 55. Anderson looked ineffective, going for 65 runs off 10 overs while Sajid Mahmood had major problems with overstepping. He finished with a tally of six no balls and four wides in his sorry return of 97 runs for one wicket off nine overs. The spinners were no better and between them Giles and Panesar could manage only one wicket.