WA Chairman's XI v England XI, Perth, 3rd day November 2, 2013

England left with much to ponder

Brad Elborough in Perth

Western Australia Chairman's XI 5 for 451 dec (Lynn 104, Towers 77, Harris 69) and 5 for 168 (Marsh 62, Lynn 61*) drew with England XI 391 (Bell 115, Trott 113*)

England travel to Hobart with questions about the composition of their side for the first Test still largely unanswered after completing a none-too-convincing draw in their opening tour match against a Western Australia XI which could draw much more pride from their performance.

Boyd Rankin acquitted himself more ably than his fellow contenders for a fast-bowling place, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett, but two wickets in WA's second innings did not represent an irresistible case for selection. And Jonny Bairstow, omitted at the WACA, benefitted from his inactivity as two options for his spot at No. 6, Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes, both fell cheaply in an England collapse on the final day.

Ian Bell, England's standout batsmen in the Ashes series in England earlier this year, added 38 in 28 balls to his overnight score of 77 from 28 balls before he retired for 115. His gesture allowed the likes of Ballance and Stokes their first hit of the tour, but it also exposed them to the second new ball, which was only one over old, and England lost seven wickets for 61 in the next 20.5 overs, with Matt Prior, deputising for Alastair Cook as captain, another batsman to fail.

England were dismissed for 391 runs, 60 runs behind, but they bowled more respectably second time around, with WA declaring its second innings closed at 5 for 168 to bring an early end to the third and final day.

Ballance made a second-ball nought on his one-day debut against Ireland last August. On his senior debut for England in first-class cricket, he fared even worse, edging his first ball, from Ryan Duffield, to the wicketkeeper.

Stokes lasted 10 balls, and managed a solitary boundary, before he fell in a similar fashion, off the bowling of the Glamorgan allrounder Jim Allenby, who took the opportunity to finish with four wickets as England's lower order crumbled.

The failure of Ballance and Stokes opens the door for opener Michael Carberry to leapfrog them into the side for the first Test in Brisbane starting on November 21. Carberry, 33, was only selected because Alastair Cook was suffering from a sore back, but he impressed with 78. England may consider bringing him into the side at Gabba and relegating Joe Root to the No. 6 spot.

But Carberry may struggle to get another chance to bat before the Brisbane Test, with Cook and Kevin Pietersen expected to play in the Hobart game against Australia A starting on Wednesday. Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann should also join the bowling attack for that game. England have to start taking decisions now.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is another of England's batsman struggling to find consistently good form. He was dismissed just four balls after Ballance departed, also caught behind off the bowling of Duffield, for 4. Prior made just 133 runs at an average of 19 against Australia in England earlier this year and has not posted a half-century in 13 Test innings.

Jonathan Trott, whose top score in the last Ashes series was 59, spent some valuable time in the middle. He was unbeaten at the end of the England innings on 113 from 236 deliveries.

Allenby was the pick of the WA bowlers, with figures of 4 for 58 from 22.5 overs after finding the edge against both James Anderson and Rankin late in the innings.

While Rankin failed to trouble the scorers with the bat, he did find a good line and length at the start of WA's second innings. He will go in to Wednesday's game slightly in front of Chris Tremlett and Finn for a final Test bowling spot. He made the most of the new ball, dismissing both openers cheaply. He had Luke Towers caught by Anderson at third slip for just one and Marcus Harris lbw for 22.

Rankin did Finn no favours in his first over of the innings though, dropping a catch, albeit a difficult chance, provided to him by Chris Lynn at mid-on. Lynn was on 12 at the time and went on to score an unbeaten 61, following his impressive 104 in the first innings.

Finn bounced back with two wickets late in the day, trapping Mitch Marsh lbw for 62 and then having Tom Triffitt caught behind without scoring four balls later. He finished with the figures of 2 for 53, following his first innings return of 1 for 123 from 23 overs. Tremlett also claimed a late wicket, his first of the game, just before the close.

England will be relieved to move on to two four-day matches against more recognised opposition, with their likely Test XI largely in place. After facing Australia A in Hobart, they will play a final warm up in Sydney against a New South Wales XI which due to a fixture clash with Shield cricket will be bolstered by several guest players on the instructions of Cricket Australia.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on November 4, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Shaggy076 (post on November 4, 2013, 3:24 GMT): Indeed true, but in my case I've been voicing concerns and opinions long before this "net game" as you say. As I said to CricketingStargazer, these warm up games generally don't create/manifest new doubts in my head - they often simply reinforce them. What really worries me is that some of the bowlers don't appear to have any plans at all, be it a warm-up game or actual test. Look back through the last Ashes and read my posts about the abysmal bowling to 'so-called' tail-enders by England's bowlers. Yes we won - woo ha! But in order to even threaten South Africa and stand ANY chance of regaining number 1, the bowlers have to bowl to get people out and not simply pray for mistakes etc.

    @Liquefierrrr: I think you'll find the same comments can be made about every international team. It just so happens that the biggest England critics are their own fans.

  • Pundit on November 4, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    Jg2704 onions bowling version of Rampakrash! You must be joking. Obviously you have a tainted view of Ramps!

  • Graham on November 4, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Seriously some people get over excited on what is merely a game for the English to blow off there cobwebs, jetlag and experience some Australian conditions. I bet that none of there bowlers had any plans for batsman and treated the situation more like a net session. Im an Aussie supporter, and optimistic that Australia can win the Ashes, but to start saying how bad England are that it is a formality that Australia will win from this net session to me seems ludicrous.

  • Dayne on November 4, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    Embarrassing for England to reveal their lack of depth here as their bowlers were pummelled around.

    This is no surprise to anyone - let's just think back to their 'new Swanny' in Simon Kerrigan. Or ST Finn's ridiculously embarrassing/humbling Ashes at home in favourable conditions, whereby he was treated like a net bowler (and rightly so).

    England have a solid Test side presently, but if we remove a single piece of that things start looking murky and concerning.

    This is why they are not a great team and their fans cling dearly to this recently victorious Ashes stint. They've had nothing to cheer about for years and are riding the wave whilst it lasts. Understandable, but very transparent.

    It will end shortly enough, and based on what we've seen here, in the last Ashes and also when trawling through the county averages, they have a lot of work to do to ensure they don't go into another embarrassing 20 years of meek underperformance.

    Until that time comes, enjoy it while it lasts.

  • John on November 4, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    @Srini_Chennai on (November 3, 2013, 5:05 GMT), if you're so determined that the state of the Test pitches was due to their having been doctored, can you please explain why all the pitches for domestic games were the same? Did they doctor those pitches too, even though neither Swann nor Australia were playing? The Test pitches were consistent with the domestic pitches so that would suggest that they were about as undoctored as they could be.

  • John on November 3, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    @Yevghenny - , just an observation that I strongly think Eng's back up lacks balance and quality. This is not kneejerk either as I strongly disagreed with the selection when the squad was announced. I've given my reasons for why I think Onions non selection was a poor decision. If you disagree with my assessment then fair enough and yes the selectors probably have got most decisions right but by law of averages they haven't got everything right and this is one decision which baffles me. I personally don't see the point in just waiting for things to go wrong before voicing my concerns

  • John on November 3, 2013, 20:53 GMT

    @CS- I stick by my comms on Onions. He may have had a rough winter but I'd still much prefer Onions to come in than any of those names mentioned from the performance squad. He does it year in,year out for Durham. Of course it could be argued that he'll be a bowling version of Ramprakash but in the last test he played I thought he bowled ok with little luck at times. Also are the performance squad players ready to step in on the day , say Jimmy or Broad pull up in warm up? I really don't see the point in having 3 similar type bowlers for 1 position at the expense of cover for the other 2 pace bowlers

    PS will be very surprised if they alter the batting order around at this stage

  • Mark on November 3, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK Last word I saw, Tim Bresnan was on course to start playing by the 1st Test. If you want a different kind of bowler though, you have a wide selection available in the performance squad. Part of the reasoning is that they are available, they are playing and can, if necessary, be picked in a Test. And there you have bowlers such as Reece Topley, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, etc.

  • Nicholas on November 3, 2013, 18:05 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer: Like JG2704, I just think England are putting all their eggs in one basket by not bringing Onions. Without Bresnan at the moment, I just feel England are missing a 'different' kind of bowler, and Stokes has definitely not convinced me yet he can fill that void. An injury to Swann? = Very bad, but at least Magic Monty is there which leaves some hope... An injury to Finn? = No big deal because Rankin and Tremlett are there right... But an injury to either Broad and/or Anderson - or more likely (in my opinion), Broad has a poor series as he often follows up a good series with a mediocre one? = Devastating for England because (again, just my feelings/opinion) these 'lanky' back-up bowlers are not suitable replacements for either of them. England need Bresnan and/or Onions in my opinion, and this first warm-up game strengthened my concerns, rather than created/manifesting them.

  • Mark on November 3, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    @Yevghenny I have seen these campaigns for years. In 2003 it was "Andrew Flintoff should never be picked again". In 2004 it was "Simon Jones is nowhere near good enough, Sajid Mahmood should be picked instead" and "Marcus Trescothick should never play for England again". In 2006 it was "Alistair Cook is useless". In 2007 it was "Andrew Strauss is not Test class". Etc. If the selectors followed the advice from fans not one of the current XI would be playing now.

    In general the selectors have made more right calls than wrong ones and the Onions call is at least defensible. They have also shown themselves to be pragmatic by hiring and firing when players don't make the grade or provoke doubts (recently Morgan, Compton, Finn, Taylor and, going back a bit further, Hoggard, or Rob Key). I am quite sure that all were selected as long-term solutions - England have rarely gone for short-term fixes in the last few years. So they are willing to be flexible, as Joe Root may soon find.

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