Western Australia v England XI, Perth, 2nd day December 10, 2006

England find form in drawn warm-up

Close England XI 4 for 356 (Cook 106, Strauss 88) drew with Western Australia 8 for 322 dec (Pomersbach 101*, Anderson 3-53)

Alastair Cook reached triple figures © Getty Images
Alastair Cook scored his first century of the tour and Andrew Strauss made 88, as England's openers enjoyed some valuable time in the middle ahead of Thursday's crucial third Test. The pair, who had managed just 161 runs between them in England's defeats at Brisbane and Adelaide, familiarised themselves with the WACA conditions by adding 183 for the first wicket, to ensure that England's final warm-up match petered out to a single-innings draw.

Further down the order, however, there was more discomfort for Geraint Jones. Playing as a specialist batsman, he fell to Aaron Heal for a first-ball duck and then watched disconsolately as his rival for the wicketkeeping role, Chris Read, batted through to the close for an unbeaten 59 - a feisty innings that included four fours and two slapped sixes off the spin of Marcus North and Adam Voges.

It was a useful work-out nonetheless for England's cricketers. Ed Joyce demonstrated his readiness for selection if the need arises by stroking a classy 73 from 97 balls, before Sajid Mahmood enlivened the stalemate with a hooked six over midwicket and a composed cut for four, both off Tim Macdonald. Ashley Giles, however, didn't fare quite so well. He was caught at forward short-leg off Ben Edmondson for 4, while Michael Vaughan - after all the fuss about his selection - wasn't even required to bat.

The key performers of the day, however, were Strauss and Cook, who had failed to convert good starts in the first two Tests and needed to feel the ball on the middle of the bat. They produced a largely trouble-free partnership. Cook had one life on 37 when he edged a Macdonald outswinger low through second slip (a weakness that caused his downfall in both innings at Adelaide), and was reprieved again on 90 when a firm clip off his toes failed to stick in the hands of short leg. Otherwise he stood tall and commanding at the crease, and slapped Brett Dorey for four fours in an over as his century approached. He retired after tea for 106 from 171 balls to give his colleagues a chance to bat.

Strauss meanwhile confirmed that he is in better form than his returns from the first two Tests have suggested. His 88 came from 110 balls with 12 well-struck fours, including three in an over from Macdonald. A century seemed there for the taking until he aimed a sweep at the left-arm spin of Heal, and lost his off stump.

Heal, who has a burgeoning reputation as an accurate and probing spinner, was the pick of Western Australia's bowlers, and he struck again with his very next ball when Jones poked a simple chance to Marcus North at slip. Joyce then emerged to arguably the biggest ovation of his career, but the reason, however, was a scoreboard mix-up that had England's injured captain, Vaughan, down to come in at No. 4 for his first high-profile innings in 10 months. As it turned out, a decent crowd were to be left disappointed.

Earlier Western Australia's 22-year-old rookie, Luke Pomersbach, had needed just 3.3 overs to bring up a hard-earned century from 139 balls. Pomersbach, who has yet to play first-class cricket, hit 12 fours and two sixes in a three-hour innings, and having resumed on 90 not out, Western Australia declared the moment he had reached his milestone.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo