Klinger digs in after Bairstow blows
England Lions 315 (Woakes 92) and 315 for 6 dec (Bairstow 139, Root 70, Kieswetter 66*) drew with Australia A 277 (Coan 99, Kerrigan 6-59) and 144 for 4 (Klinger 65*)
This game ended rather as though it was the conclusion to the first major skirmish in a five-match series. Asked to score 354 runs in a minimum of 64 overs, Australia A treated England's lunchtime declaration as nothing more than a rhetorical question and were perfectly justified in doing so.
Having managed a rate of just 2.81 runs an over in their first innings, the tourists were never going to embrace the challenge of rattling along at 5.53 an over in their second. Clearly, therefore, Ed Cowan's batsmen were not set a target; they were set a task, that of surviving two sessions against the England A attack. They did the job reasonably well, finishing the match on 144 for 4. For their part, the home side could argue that it is even more important not to risk defeat in the first of what is only a two-match series. The sides begin the second game at Edgbaston next Tuesday.
Australia A lost four wickets in their second innings but these successes were moments when the game awoke with a startle before settling back into an increasingly deep sleep: Cowan, who had looked very impressive in making 99 in the first innings, nicked a fine ball from James Harris straight to Samit Patel at second slip in the tenth over; conversely, Liam Davis, who had not caught the eye on Wednesday, batted smoothly for his 43 runs before he edged Patel to Jonny Bairstow, who took his third fine slip catch of the match.
Tom Cooper conjured his own dismissal, when his sweep off James Tredwell ricocheted to the suddenly ubiquitous Patel at silly point; and two overs before the players shook hands Tim Paine fatally snicked Stuart Meaker to Tredwell, who was then fielding at slip
For most of the innings Michael Klinger batted with studied care and ended with 65 not out off 148 balls. He added 60 runs in 27 overs for the second wicket with Davis and 38 for the fourth with Paine. Klinger's occasional acts of aggression, such as his straight six off Tredwell, were far outnumbered by shots which revealed a careful defence and a tight technique, the type of batting, in other words, that has distinguished matches between England and Australia for well over a century.
Eoin Morgan's attack stuck to its task but Tredwell and Simon Kerrigan never threatened to cause the dam-burst of wickets their alliance had prompted in the first innings. Patel bowled only six overs in the match and will probably not be complaining too loudly this evening. The Old Trafford wicket and square have been examined to perdition at almost every interval by a group of pitch inspectors this week, but the strip that will, apparently, be used for next year's Ashes Test held up very well and certainly harboured no demons on the final afternoon.
The morning's play saw the Lions batsmen prosper, no one more so than Bairstow, who took his overnight 73 not out to 139 in 75 minutes' savage batting before he gave Peter Forrest a maiden first-class wicket when he edged the medium-pacer to Paine.
The Yorkshireman dispatched Jon Holland's second ball of the morning through midwicket for four and it served almost as a declaration of supremacy. He later stroked Mitchell Johnson over square-leg for six with an easeful flick. The ball was almost feathered but it went miles. Bairstow's innings, which included 20 fours and a couple of sixes, may not win the him a recall to the Test side but it revealed, once again, his remarkable ability to make international bowlers look like journeymen.
"Hopefully Jonny's innings will have reminded him and us as to the talent he has in his game," David Parsons, England's performance director, said. "You always worry how players will respond to being left out, and he would have been very disappointed when that happened. But he got a hundred for Yorkshire recently and and played positively here. When his time comes next, who knows when it will be, hopefully that experience of the three Test matches he's had will have done him the world of good."
It was not a comfortable morning for the Australia A attack. Slow left-armer Holland gained some reward for his accuracy and ended the innings with 3 for 89, but Johnson was wayward and went for 75 in 11 overs. This was in sharp contrast to his excellent display in the first innings. And indeed, when Bairstow was not flaying the bowling to the cranes, scaffolding and half-built stands that surround Old Trafford, Craig Kieswetter was doing so. The Somerset keeper made 66 off 94 deliveries and whacked Cooper for two sixes in an over as the Lions racked up 157 runs in 34 overs prior to the declaration.