Essex v England, LV= Challenge Match, Chelmsford, 1st day June 30, 2013

Swann, Bresnan avert embarrassment

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England 328 for 7 (Swann 62*, Bresnan 55*) v Essex
Scorecard

A few weeks ago, when Lancashire bowled Essex out for 20, there were those within the England set-up who privately expressed concerns about the value of this game as preparation for the Ashes.

Those concerns were understandable. Despite a talented squad, Essex are currently placed in the middle of Division Two of the County Championship and, with a view to their county commitments, took the opportunity to rest three or four first-choice players for this match. Would they put up any sort of resistance?

Yet a second-string attack who had, before this game, claimed only eight first-class* wickets between them this season, dismissed England's top seven for only 212. An unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 116 between Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann spared any acute embarrassment, but it was a day that suggested the surfeit of limited-overs cricket England have experienced of late has not been ideal preparation for the Ashes.

Some caution is required before anyone concludes that England's Ashes plans are in chaos. Complacency was certainly a contributory factor in one or two dismissals - notably Kevin Pietersen's - and this game was designed precisely with the aim of easing England's players back into the disciplines required for first-class cricket. It would be wrong to read too much into it.

It was an inglorious performance from England's top-order, though. Inserted by prior agreement and on a blameless pitch - Ravi Bopara, the Essex captain, later admitted he would have liked to bat but was happy to agree to England's request - each one of the top seven made a start but failed to convert it into a meaningful contribution due to some looses strokes and a lack of concentration.

There were some encouraging performances from Essex players, too. Tymal Mills, a 20-year-old left-arm fast bowler who played at the request of the England management, generated speeds in excess of 94 mph according to the television speed gun, while Tom Craddock, a 23-year-old leg-spinner who went into this game without a first-class wicket this season, claimed three in his first nine overs and demonstrated good composure in the face of Pietersen's aggression.

Pietersen had settled in against some woeful bowling. Fed a diet of full-tosses and long-hops, he eased three of his first four deliveries to the boundary and demonstrated his intent against Craddock's legspin by driving the first delivery he faced from him over mid-on for four. He was dropped moments later attempting a repeat, Craddock unable to cling on to a sharp return chance, but then tried the shot once more and was well held by a relieved bowler. Pietersen's dismissal, careless as it was, will irritate some but, in the grand scheme of things, it is more important to note that he looked fit and in fine form. He is likely to treat Ashes matches with far greater respect.

If that wicket owed something to Pietersen's impatience, the wicket of Matt Prior owed more to the traditional skills of a legbreak bowler. Drawing Prior into pushing at one outside off stump, Craddock took the outside edge with a delivery that turned appreciably on its way to the keeper.

In between times, Ian Bell was the victim of a wonderful piece of fielding. Jaik Mickleburgh, at short leg, anticipated Bell's stroke as the batsman shaped to dab-sweep and, moving sharply to his left, clung on to the catch one-handed. Bell had struggled for fluency throughout, but it was a somewhat unfortunate ending.

Earlier, Joe Root had endured a painful start to his career as an England opening batsman. Root, promoted in place of the discarded Nick Compton to allow room for Jonny Bairstow in the middle-order, got off the mark with an edge that bounced just short of the slip cordon and was later struck on the left knee by a delivery from Mills. Despite the ball appearing to hit Root on the pads, the batsman was clearly in some pain and, a few deliveries later, was drawn into poking at one from Saj Mahmood that he could have left outside off stump and edged a catch to second slip. Root spent much of the rest of the day with an ice pack on his knee, but an England team spokesman said that it was not considered a serious injury.

Mills was impressive, if inconsistent, but faded as the warmth of the day began to tell. Working up a sharp pace, he dismissed the England captain (and Mills' Essex team-mate) Alastair Cook with a delivery that was probably a bit too close for the cut shot the batsman attempted and Jonathan Trott, who was drawn into feeling for one angled across him that he could have left.

By contrast Mahmood, once seen as an England fast bowler of great potential, barely passed 80 mph and conceded five an over in a performance littered with full-tosses. He did, however, compensate with the wicket of Root - just his second first-class victim of the season - and later saw Bairstow leave one that tailed in a fraction to hit the top of off stump.

But if England were to take any positives from the day, it will have been a reminder of the strength of their lower-order batting. While Bresnan resisted stoutly, Swann counterattacked in characteristic style. He hit Craddock for four boundaries in five balls and later Mills for three in succession as the pair steered their side from any danger and both completed half-centuries shortly before the close.

Essex rested their captain James Foster, swing bowler Reece Topley and allrounder Graham Napier from their full-strength side, while England left out James Anderson and Stuart Broad from their likely first Test line-up. While Broad has a minor shoulder injury, the result of diving to regain his ground in the dying moments of the Champions Trophy final, an England spokesman confirmed that he would have been fit to play had this been a Test. It was also confirmed that England have no plans to send any of their squad bowlers along with Compton to further enhance the Worcestershire side in their game against the Australians later this week.

*This match had first-class status removed on the third day

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • H_Z_O on July 2, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer Never been a big fan of batting for a draw by just trying to survive. Against top bowlers they will get you eventually, but if you get runs you make it harder for them to set attacking fields etc.

    If Adelaide had been drawn, the series would not have been decided in Perth (Australia would have been 2-0 up with 2 to play). At the MCG Australia were 84-5, still 75 runs short of England's woeful first innings. But England's backs were broken and the Australians had nothing to lose. Would it have been the same at 2-0 with 2 to play? Might Australia have folded and conceded a slim first innings lead? Would that have been enough? And had England won that Test might the SCG have been the stage for an epic comeback to 2-2 and the retaining of the Ashes?

    But, as you say, in the real world we got soundly beaten, 5-0, and we were lucky to get 0. I always thought Strauss should have been the captain and I can't help but wonder if things would have been different if he had.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    @H_Z_O That, is the question. If England had gone for quick runs, would the match have ended in the same way? As you say, quite possibly not. Would the series have been as one-sided as it was had England drawn? Australia would have won still, but obviously not 5-0... it may have been 2-0 or 3-0.

    For me, the biggest "what if" is the matter of the captaincy. Had it been Andrew Strauss instead of Andrew Flintoff the final result would have been a lot closer. My bet is 2-1 or 3-1.

    However, in the real world, it was 5-0 and the rest is history. Once England threw away the Adelaide Test from such a strong position, that 5-0 margin was inevitable.

  • H_Z_O on July 2, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer I actually thought England should have gone for quick runs in Adelaide in 2006, so I've played that "what if" scenario in my head quite a lot ;). Of course, the questionable decision Strauss got that sparked the collapse did little to help in that regard either.

    As for 2005, you're right that Australia collapsed from 264-1 to 367 but they were 185-0. Without KP's 158 they'd have been chasing 184 to win. Of course, nothing's certain (see Adelaide 2006) but it would have made for a nervy fourth innings ;).

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    @Mr.CrickCheat it's an original way of looking at things. He averages 49.0 in all Tests and 52.7 v Australia. QED, he underperforms against Australia?

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    @H_Z_O Playing "what if?" is the most popular game in cricket. In that deciding Ashes Test in 2005 you can also say that Hoggard and Flintoff were running through Australia (264-1 to 367ao), so there was every chance that Australia would have collapsed again, as they had done so many times in that series even without Pietersen's runs.

    What would have happened if England had gone for quick runs at Adelaide instead of fiddling around? Maybe they would never have collapsed and Australia would have had to chase 250 in an afternoon and never established a stranglehold on the series :-)

    No one will ever know what would have happened In these cases because cricket often does not obey logic and, perhaps, it's just as well that they do not.

  • H_Z_O on July 1, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    @Mr.CrickCheat his 158 at the Oval in 2005 while the rest of the England batsmen were losing their heads (his first Ashes series, it must be said) might not have won the match but it sure as hell won the Ashes. Australia were rampant in that match, Warne and McGrath running through the English as they had done so many times before. Without Pietersen, that match would have been lost and England would not have won the Ashes in 2005.

    It's also really cheap to look at the margin of victory after the fact and say the runs didn't matter. Without those runs in Adelaide, England would have had to chase 156. In 2006 at the same ground they were 59-1 going into day 5, a lead of 97. 70 runs later they were all out and Australia comfortably chased down 168 to win what looked like a certain draw. There's absolutely no certainty England would have chased down the 156, so who knows if KP's runs won the match?

  • TenDonebyaShooter on July 1, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    hello ruester, yes I have read KP's record against Australia. Seventeen tests, and only one century which could palpably be described as "match-winning" (his 227 at Adelaide), and even that was such a big margin of victory England could well have won anyway. Whatever his talents, his match-winning centuries in Ashes tests are far exceeded by his number of complacent (and sometimes match-losing) dismissals (e.g., bowled round his legs by Warne at Adelaide 5 Dec 2006). So I will not be told to shut up.

  • H_Z_O on July 1, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer yeah, that was my thinking regarding the India series too. Despite the dry wickets we saw at the Champions Trophy, I can't see the pitches for the Tests being anywhere near that dry.

    I agree that on form both sides are actually fairly close and I think it could come down to attitude and mental fortitude. If Lehmann can instil that in an Australia side that's looked uncharacteristically devoid of it recently, we might be in for a shock. Otherwise I'd back England's gritty experience to just edge it. It's shaping up to be a great series, whatever happens. Good news too; close, tense, nervy series are the most fun (hence why 2005 remains my favourite).

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    @H_Z_O That was my reasoning. And it has been a success. Bresnan has an unbeaten century, which will not do his confidence any harm, reaching the century with a six and Swann just missed out with 94. England passed 400 and declared. Job done. Just the route was odd.

    And only Finn missed out on reaching double figures.

    The India series is only relevant if England has a blazingly hot summer and five dust bowls are produced. As the tendency seems to be to wetter summers, that strikes me as unlikely.

    If you take the last three series played (i.e. season 2013/13 on), England are P8. W4, D3, L1; Australia are P10, W3, D2, L5. Not quite as massive a difference in current form as some people would have you believe. A lot of people are thinking back to the 1989 series, but there is also a parallel to 1985. Then Australia had some administrative issues at the start of the to, looked sublime against the counties, rolling Somerset easily, had the 4 fastest bowlers in the series... and lost 3-1

  • on July 1, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    There are many positives from this too….I don't know why everyone is talking about collapse of front line batsman. This line up will destroy Aussies bowling line up for sure in Ashes, and Swann and Bresnan showed how deep this line up is. In this particular game, they will go across 400 for sure and Bowlers will put pressure on Essex. Significant sign for the English cricket. Players are plying their best game in need. On the other side Big challenge for the Aussies, they are already considered as under Dogs and now they can't be relaxed after picking up 6-7 wickets because this match shows how well tailenders can bat and can spoil the party.

  • H_Z_O on July 2, 2013, 17:58 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer Never been a big fan of batting for a draw by just trying to survive. Against top bowlers they will get you eventually, but if you get runs you make it harder for them to set attacking fields etc.

    If Adelaide had been drawn, the series would not have been decided in Perth (Australia would have been 2-0 up with 2 to play). At the MCG Australia were 84-5, still 75 runs short of England's woeful first innings. But England's backs were broken and the Australians had nothing to lose. Would it have been the same at 2-0 with 2 to play? Might Australia have folded and conceded a slim first innings lead? Would that have been enough? And had England won that Test might the SCG have been the stage for an epic comeback to 2-2 and the retaining of the Ashes?

    But, as you say, in the real world we got soundly beaten, 5-0, and we were lucky to get 0. I always thought Strauss should have been the captain and I can't help but wonder if things would have been different if he had.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    @H_Z_O That, is the question. If England had gone for quick runs, would the match have ended in the same way? As you say, quite possibly not. Would the series have been as one-sided as it was had England drawn? Australia would have won still, but obviously not 5-0... it may have been 2-0 or 3-0.

    For me, the biggest "what if" is the matter of the captaincy. Had it been Andrew Strauss instead of Andrew Flintoff the final result would have been a lot closer. My bet is 2-1 or 3-1.

    However, in the real world, it was 5-0 and the rest is history. Once England threw away the Adelaide Test from such a strong position, that 5-0 margin was inevitable.

  • H_Z_O on July 2, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer I actually thought England should have gone for quick runs in Adelaide in 2006, so I've played that "what if" scenario in my head quite a lot ;). Of course, the questionable decision Strauss got that sparked the collapse did little to help in that regard either.

    As for 2005, you're right that Australia collapsed from 264-1 to 367 but they were 185-0. Without KP's 158 they'd have been chasing 184 to win. Of course, nothing's certain (see Adelaide 2006) but it would have made for a nervy fourth innings ;).

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    @Mr.CrickCheat it's an original way of looking at things. He averages 49.0 in all Tests and 52.7 v Australia. QED, he underperforms against Australia?

  • CricketingStargazer on July 2, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    @H_Z_O Playing "what if?" is the most popular game in cricket. In that deciding Ashes Test in 2005 you can also say that Hoggard and Flintoff were running through Australia (264-1 to 367ao), so there was every chance that Australia would have collapsed again, as they had done so many times in that series even without Pietersen's runs.

    What would have happened if England had gone for quick runs at Adelaide instead of fiddling around? Maybe they would never have collapsed and Australia would have had to chase 250 in an afternoon and never established a stranglehold on the series :-)

    No one will ever know what would have happened In these cases because cricket often does not obey logic and, perhaps, it's just as well that they do not.

  • H_Z_O on July 1, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    @Mr.CrickCheat his 158 at the Oval in 2005 while the rest of the England batsmen were losing their heads (his first Ashes series, it must be said) might not have won the match but it sure as hell won the Ashes. Australia were rampant in that match, Warne and McGrath running through the English as they had done so many times before. Without Pietersen, that match would have been lost and England would not have won the Ashes in 2005.

    It's also really cheap to look at the margin of victory after the fact and say the runs didn't matter. Without those runs in Adelaide, England would have had to chase 156. In 2006 at the same ground they were 59-1 going into day 5, a lead of 97. 70 runs later they were all out and Australia comfortably chased down 168 to win what looked like a certain draw. There's absolutely no certainty England would have chased down the 156, so who knows if KP's runs won the match?

  • TenDonebyaShooter on July 1, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    hello ruester, yes I have read KP's record against Australia. Seventeen tests, and only one century which could palpably be described as "match-winning" (his 227 at Adelaide), and even that was such a big margin of victory England could well have won anyway. Whatever his talents, his match-winning centuries in Ashes tests are far exceeded by his number of complacent (and sometimes match-losing) dismissals (e.g., bowled round his legs by Warne at Adelaide 5 Dec 2006). So I will not be told to shut up.

  • H_Z_O on July 1, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer yeah, that was my thinking regarding the India series too. Despite the dry wickets we saw at the Champions Trophy, I can't see the pitches for the Tests being anywhere near that dry.

    I agree that on form both sides are actually fairly close and I think it could come down to attitude and mental fortitude. If Lehmann can instil that in an Australia side that's looked uncharacteristically devoid of it recently, we might be in for a shock. Otherwise I'd back England's gritty experience to just edge it. It's shaping up to be a great series, whatever happens. Good news too; close, tense, nervy series are the most fun (hence why 2005 remains my favourite).

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    @H_Z_O That was my reasoning. And it has been a success. Bresnan has an unbeaten century, which will not do his confidence any harm, reaching the century with a six and Swann just missed out with 94. England passed 400 and declared. Job done. Just the route was odd.

    And only Finn missed out on reaching double figures.

    The India series is only relevant if England has a blazingly hot summer and five dust bowls are produced. As the tendency seems to be to wetter summers, that strikes me as unlikely.

    If you take the last three series played (i.e. season 2013/13 on), England are P8. W4, D3, L1; Australia are P10, W3, D2, L5. Not quite as massive a difference in current form as some people would have you believe. A lot of people are thinking back to the 1989 series, but there is also a parallel to 1985. Then Australia had some administrative issues at the start of the to, looked sublime against the counties, rolling Somerset easily, had the 4 fastest bowlers in the series... and lost 3-1

  • on July 1, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    There are many positives from this too….I don't know why everyone is talking about collapse of front line batsman. This line up will destroy Aussies bowling line up for sure in Ashes, and Swann and Bresnan showed how deep this line up is. In this particular game, they will go across 400 for sure and Bowlers will put pressure on Essex. Significant sign for the English cricket. Players are plying their best game in need. On the other side Big challenge for the Aussies, they are already considered as under Dogs and now they can't be relaxed after picking up 6-7 wickets because this match shows how well tailenders can bat and can spoil the party.

  • H_Z_O on July 1, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    @JG2704 yeah, I cringed when I saw people reading too much into the Indian series by both sides. We're not playing these Tests in India. Even both teams' series against South Africa are probably irrelevant since they were played in different conditions (and Hussey's retirement, while providing an opportunity for young guys like Khawaja or Hughes to step up and fill the void, is a big blow).

    I actually think the reason England didn't declare last night was to give Bresnan and Swann some time in the middle in case a big contribution from the tail is needed during the Ashes (against an Aussie attack that leans towards sudden strikes rather than consistent pressure, I think it might).

    @Mitty2 there's no way they drop Bell. He might be out of form but he's faced the likes of Warne, McGrath and Lee. That sort of experience will be needed against guys like Pattinson and Starc, who are dangerous but inexperienced. England's only decision is over Compton (opening, with Root at 6) or Bairstow.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @Yorkshire Pudding Pass!!! If you can't get the county side to put out a full strength XI it isn't much use to anyone as anything other than a glorified net that no one takes seriously enough, which is how the Test trial games ended up being (in that particular game, John Snow was decidedly unimpressed with being picked for "The Rest" and spent the day bowling at half pace until a mischievous team-mate suggested bowling one quick over to end the day, whereupon Dennis Amiss suddenly had to defend six balls that all flew around his ears at high pace - point made, Snow returned to half pace next day).

    Of all the suggestions, having an unofficial Test v Ireland makes sense to me. No chance of the Irish giving us an easy ride and the embarrassment of possibly losing would certainly be an incentive to the players.

  • liz1558 on July 1, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Why is Mills classified as medium fast if he's bowling at 94mph? Very typical of Cricinfo - John Snow and Brian Statham are down as fm when they were both, in fact, outright fast bowlers. A minor irritation.

  • Mitty2 on July 1, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    People saying that bell should go, does his replacement have multiple ashes series experience? Have they played more than 10 tests? Have they scored multiple centuries under pressure and against Australia? I think not. But as an Aussie, if you want to put three inexperienced batsmen in which their only collective centuries came against NZ when you don't need to, that's fine! Bairstow against pattinson - fun.

    @landl47, I think if you want to make a comment on our 'abstract' misery, why use the champions trophy when you've got a 0-4 drubbing against a mediocre Indian side?? It stoll makes me crimge. I for one don't care about the CT, an if it wasn't for 'net run rate' and rain we would've beaten NZ and SL. But we were thoroughly outplayed by England - obviously.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 1, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer, I know they were abandoned, just like the Players vs Gentlemen games in the 60's. How is playing a county any different to playing an the England A-team?

    The players in the A-team would atleast have a chance of getting selected unlike the members of the Essex team.

    Part of me things the Essex game is just a way to try and swell the coffers of Dave Masters during his benefit year, and with Cook and Gooch being essex men they're helping out the player/club more than england.

  • siddhartha87 on July 1, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    KP looked fluent. Enough reason to be happy for England and enough reason to worry for Australia

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    @Jono Makim Makes sense to me. I don't understand why we don't have an unofficial England v Ireland Test every season.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    @JG2704 166, 18, 15, 56, 81, 34 since the Tests... would one failure for Worcestershire really make a material difference? He was told to go out and make runs and he has.

    The situation is more the opposite. Suppose he makes another 50 v Australia for Worcs: could his case really be ignored for the 1st Test?

  • John-Orford on July 1, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    If the dress rehearsal is a disaster, the show will be fine.

  • JG2704 on July 1, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    @zenboomerang - Not sure if he wants Bres and Swann to have a chance to get their 1st Eng tons , but yeah I get your drift

    @Nutcutlet - I've said the same myself. Maybe mixed 11s - like one team comprised of 1st team batsmen and fringe bowlers and the other fringe batsmen and 1st team bowlers. Then we'd see how the fringe bowlers do against the 1st team batsmen and vice versa with the bowlers

    @jackiethepen -Lol - So Bell was going on to play another dazzling inns before it all conspired against him.? Any other part of the game you'd like to comment on?

  • JG2704 on July 1, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (June 30, 2013, 20:37 GMT) Certainly not suggesting Ravi should get a gig but if Nick doesn't do well for Worcs and Jonny doesn't score in the 2nd inns I wouldn't put it past them

    @H_Z_O on (June 30, 2013, 21:45 GMT) I thought the Somerset Oz 1st day comms were typical of folk getting carried away. You had Somerset at over 300-2 inc a 2nd team player getting over double his previous best = comms of Aus bowling attack mediocre and then Aus bowling attack skittling the further 8 wkts in next to no time = Eng stand no chance. Even if we were to read into this game , one commenter said it was the worst batting track. If true 328-7 isn't a bad day's work. Sure rescued by the current partnership but then again many Oz scores compiled because of tail contributions. Would not read any more into these games as the Aus performances in India. Everyone starts fresh

  • on July 1, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    I don't know why they didn't get the Irish team over for a four day match, would give a far better indication of where both teams are up to on their various journeys. Ireland would surely also be a much stronger unit than this Essex side?

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 8:10 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding Test trials were abandoned in the 1970s because players really didn't take them that seriously (read the account of John Snow's experience playing for "The Rest" in the 1975 Test trial match). There is something in the psyche of English players that really does not let them give 100% in these games, as in tour warm-ups.

  • on July 1, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    jackiethepen: I happened to switch on just as Colville & Hussain were discussing the Ian Bell dismissal. Hussain gave an explanation from 3rd umpire Illingworth that the umpires had not interpreted short leg's movement as being excessive or unfair as it was "lateral, not forwards/backwards". As a qualified umpire I have to say I have never heard such rubbish! Forwards/backwards movement is more acceptable (e.g. 'walking in' as the bowler runs up) although this also has to be within reason. But sideways movement such as seen yesterday has to be defined as both significant and unfair under law 41:7. The fielder has gained an obvious and decisive advantage and completely changed his fielding position after the moment the ball became 'live', which is against the laws (and some would say spirit) of the game. Full marks to the fielder for his anticipation and skill, yes - but a clearer example of 'dead ball' you could not wish to see.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 1, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, I agree it would have been better to hold a game of England XI vs Lions XI. Though in the England XI Anderson and Broad (if fit) would have played, with Finn and Onions Making up part of the attack in the Second XI.

    I would certainly have put pressure on the incumbants to produce, and for them to be around the core team, That was always one of the features I liked about the Australian set up in the 90's they had the first and second XI play each other often showing new talents and also giving people on the fringe hope that a good outing may see them included.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 1, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    @zenboomerang Given how important the tail has been to England in the past few years in turning modest totals into good ones I am not that surprised that England have not declared. It would do quite a lot for morale and as a statement of intent if Swann or Bresnan were to go on to a century and England to 400. Neither gets that much chance to play a long innings and both are highly capable batsmen (4 and 3 First Class centuries respectively).

  • Nutcutlet on July 1, 2013, 6:35 GMT

    Instead of the England XI playing a county side, I'd have preferrred the return of a full on Test Trial: Probables v Possibles. This would, IMO, add sharpness to the occasion as the Possibles would attempt to upset/challenge some of the selectors' thinking, besides providing a single setting for the leading comparative talents to be put on show. Compton, Carberry, Tremlett, Rankin, James Taylor, Varun Chopra, Rikki Clarke, Samit Patel, Danny Briggs even the ageless James Forster himself are just a few of the players that come to mind. I think that these players would have appreciated the 1st class stage to show off their combined talents against the selectors' first picks. Furthermore, the feeling of a county providing a net in the middle (where even the toss itself is prearranged to suit the senior side) would be avoided. The more meaningful such one-off fixtures can be made the better, I would have thought.

  • zenboomerang on July 1, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Not sure why Cook didn't declared at 300/7 at the 80th over - what sense does it make to push for more runs? Giving Finn & Onions 5 overs each would have been a good way to end the day. Surely the Eng XI should bowl out Essex for under 200 fairly easily & that would give them more time to get some decent runs into the batsmen.

    In the end its only a warm-up match, yawn... I think we will all get over them quickly enough come Test eve.

  • zenboomerang on July 1, 2013, 5:22 GMT

    @jonesy2 - "you would be brave to suggest England would make over 150 on perhaps more than one occasion"

    Funniest thing I've read today. Unless there are some bogs for pitches I doubt that we (Oz) will bowl out Eng for less that 150 in any innings - considering that 240 was the lowest Eng score against the Saffa's at home last year. That said, you never know & there could be a purple patch from our bowlers...

  • landl47 on July 1, 2013, 5:21 GMT

    I'm glad to see the Aussie fans are excited about their team again. The abject misery caused by watching an Australian team in the Champions Trophy appear to give up has worn off.

    I'm looking forward to a fun test series.

  • jonesy2 on July 1, 2013, 4:16 GMT

    FrankWoods-- he was talking about the mighty aussie bowling as the greatest and he is correct.

    I really really really hope ian bell, Compton and bairstow get picked and root if one of them doesn't. on the face of it looking on paper you would be brave to suggest England would make over 150 on perhaps more than one occasion

  • ruester on July 1, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    MrCrick.Cheat, Why have a go at KP, saying that his dismissal in the first test would of led to us losing the Ashes is ridiculous? Yes he plays attacking shots but how many match winning innings does the man produce. Give him a break, he has just scored 170 odd not out after three months off. Against a weak attack, compared what he is used to facing, then it is of no surprise if he gets a little complacent. KP saves the best for Test Matches, read his record against Australia and shut up.

  • derpherp on July 1, 2013, 1:41 GMT

    Good to see Swann (a bowler) top scorer in a England slide a week or so out from the Ashes. im an Aussie ;)

  • Broken_F-ing_Arm on July 1, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    hehehe... The English fans when Australia has very easy win against good div 1 team "its only somerset". 2 days later England 212/7 against the lowly ranked div 2 Essex.

    @jmcilhinney juggling formats, dont kid your self, the Ct was 2 weeks long + the way Eng play ODI is not that different to how they play Test + Eng played 5 tests against NZ prior to that.

    @hhillbumper "greatest ever attack". NO. As it currently stands, they prob have the 4th best attack (behind SA, PAK, AUS) ATM. Let alone of all time. 1 good swing bowler, 1 good off spinner and no depth of bowling stock is not greatest ever. If Anderson is injured then Ashes is definetly ours.

  • on June 30, 2013, 22:06 GMT

    The real deal starts on 10th July. I am not overly concerned about this at all. Eng are not complacent either. These players and the staff are ultra professional. Cricket is a game and the players are all human. Bat and ball will do the talking in the Ashes. On paper England are favourites but nothing is won on paper. I think if anything Eng have slightly better batting depth and Australia's bowling attack is slightly superior in that it has more pace, but will they swing the dukes ball like we can? A lot of hype over this Fawad bloke. He is no Shane Warne but again time will tell. In all honesty, it would not surprise me if this is the first drawn series since 1972.

  • on June 30, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    well well well, what an embarrassment, and that too against a 2nd devision team, the poms were all over the AUS thread saying how bad AUS were for letting a county team make 320, and now we see a 2nd devision county team reduce england to 6 for 200 (keeping in mind AUS were only 5 down after passing 320) so the supposed best batting line up in the world cant even compete against 2nd devision county team, now we wait for tomorrow where we will find out that the supposed best bowling attack in the world is just a mediocre, Arthur should have grabed the ashes before returning to perth, save the trip thats enevetably going to happen

  • H_Z_O on June 30, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    @JG2704 Yeah, I don't know why we bother even holding Test matches between England and Australia, we might as well let both sides play against the counties and whoever wins most comfortably gets the Ashes. After all, who needs to have Test matches when you can have warm-ups to decide, eh?

    I agree, it's crazy to read too much into either team's warm-ups. England clearly have to adjust back to Test cricket after not only the Champions Trophy but also the New Zealand ODI series that preceded it. Australia's batsmen should also be facing a sterner test than the Somerset attack come July 10th. That said, if they can use the warm-ups to carry form into the Test series and England don't get it right in the second innings of this one, it should make Trent Bridge a tasty match. Say what you will about the Australian batting, their bowlers are quality and they will seize on even the slightest mistake by our batsmen.

    I reckon this will be a tight series, maybe even an edge of your seat classic.

  • hhillbumper on June 30, 2013, 20:41 GMT

    Having seen what the Essex attack has done what will happen when they face the worlds greatest ever attack? Wonder why we bother playing the Aussies as might as well give them the ashes now and save our blushes.

  • CricketingStargazer on June 30, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    @JG2704 Yes, I had wondered about that sub-text too. He did his job in the Champions Trophy. He has an excellent sequence of scores in recent T20s and ODIs. However, he is only averaging 27.3 in First Class cricket, so it would be hard to justify picking him for a Test. However, he is still relatively young - 28 - and may yet make a Test career for himself.

  • JG2704 on June 30, 2013, 19:50 GMT

    As desperately as I wanted to watch this game a swim at Elberry Cove and Dartington/Totnes estate seemed more appealing on such a glorious day. I see by the balanced comments that this days play means Australia are going to win the Ashes just like the fact that a Somerset 2nd team player scoring a century against the Aus attack means that Eng will score 1000 runs in an inns. Back to reality. Difficult to gage even what this inns means until Essex have also batted. 2 things I've noticed are that all the players got starts and also Bell's SR was poor and to me when he isn't fluent he's off form. A sidenote - I wonder what happens if Ravi scores a ton? Not saying he should be considered but I'm wondering if he does well and with Cook as captain..

  • TenDonebyaShooter on June 30, 2013, 19:48 GMT

    "Some caution is required before anyone concludes that England's Ashes plans are in chaos. Complacency was certainly a contributory factor in one or two dismissals - notably Kevin Pietersen's.. ". Well I seem to remember that complacency was certainly a contributory factor in KP's dismissal to another spinner on the first day of the Ashes series four years ago, a dismissal which would have contributed to an England loss which would have prevented them from regaining the Ashes, had it not been for the broad bats of Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar. So if England do not want their Ashes plans to appear in chaos again, Mr Pietersen ought to start learning his lessons in regard to complacency.

  • CricketingStargazer on June 30, 2013, 19:01 GMT

    This looked like an over-relaxed batting performance. All nine batsmen so far have reached double figures. Seven batsmen have reached 20 and so could be said to be well in, bit only Swann and Bresnan have reached 50 when it became obvious that someone had to apply himself.

    I would not be amazed if one or other were to reach a century tomorrow and England to pass 400. That would be a winning score. However, the batsmen have had a lesson in humility: it doesn't matter who the opposition are, you have to get your head down and apply yourself. If that lesson is learnt before the first Test it will have been time well spent: England's biggest danger is to believe their own propaganda and think that they only have to turn up to win the 1st Test and the bookies are not helping by making England massive favourites.

    Another thing to come out of today is that the door is still open for Nick Compton. He's making good runs and Joe Root has not taken his chance as well as he could have.

  • Cyril_Knight on June 30, 2013, 18:21 GMT

    A better warm-up would be to have had all the players play a round of Championship cricket, in matches that matter. The idea that England need to play a contrived "match" against the weakest (on form) County side is nonsense. Nothing can be gained from this fixture. Competitive cricket prepares for competitive cricket, no?

  • 64blip on June 30, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    Do you know, I just can't wait for all the warm-ups and the attempts to wring meaning from every single encounter, player's stats, past performances and wishful thinking to be over and the actual Ashes to begin. Win or lose, I just don't care any more, I just want it to be happening! Roll on July 10th.

  • jackiethepen on June 30, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    Is it right, George Dobell, that short leg is allowed to move to leg slip while the ball is in flight in domestic cricket? This is against the Laws of the game but the third umpire told the Sky commentators (who raised the issue) it is allowed in domestic cricket but not in International cricket. Apparently this is to encourage anticipation of the ball. But if it isn't allowed in International cricket won't they will be barred from doing that? It extends the arc of the fielder if he is allowed to move sideways behind the batsman's eyeline once the ball is in flight. The batsman will obviously think there is a gap. The Laws say that the umpire should call dead ball. And usually that happens. I'm sure I have seen it happen in domestic cricket when a fielder moves and he isn't supposed to. Bell's dismissal was against the Laws of cricket. Can they be 'interpretated' to contradict the Laws without a change from the MCC?

  • sonicattack on June 30, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    @RandyOZ - please don't worry! Everything will turn out fine, you'll see! ....It's a good idea to have such a game as this, a good crowd and an opportunity for the team to get together....not bothered about the score, never really known England to do especially well in warm-up games on tour. It's good for Bresnan and Swann to get some runs tho', have noticed that Swann's best period was a few years ago, against Australia!

  • Dashgar on June 30, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    Another positive for Australia is that with Bresnan in the runs the English might be tempted to play him ahead of Broad or Finn.

  • Mitty2 on June 30, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    Omg a 22 year old wicket less leg spinner in the season took 3 wickets against England's first choice batting line up... Get fawad Ahmed in!!!

    But in all seriousness, it is a warm up game so it matters none, but I'd just like to reiterate the fact to those English commentators bagging the Aus A team results (a team which won all games) and those mediating our warm up performance with "it's only Somerset on a road"... Well, division 2 in its notorious weakness puts forward a side without topley and Napier, and not a single front line batsmen makes a century with the off spinner making a reported comfortable half century... Not much needs to be said.

    But please England stop with the 'complacency' justification/excuse. It happened in NZ and all throughout the series (in the warm up games as well - ironically enough) and it just reeks of arrogance. Arrogance in which, to be frank, is not deserved.

  • VillageBlacksmith on June 30, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    its pretty straightforward... keep compton, leave root where he is & drop bell, he has lost it... S/R 28?????

  • Dashgar on June 30, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    As an Australian fan I'll just say this. It's only a warm up but if England expect us to fear them they're going to be disappointed. This ashes will be hotly contested for 25 days.

  • RoBoBobster on June 30, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    not sure if Swann and Bresnan getting runs is good or not as we want them playing well but it says things about other batsmen (which to be fair is said through their starts without bigger scores - 5 of top 7 made 20, no one made 50, says temperament is the main issue to me

  • HawK89 on June 30, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    If these warmup matches are anything to go on, then this will be another great Ashes series to watch, otherwise it will be 1 sided for 5 test matches of England winning from day 1.

  • on June 30, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Cook and Trott falling to the pace of mills is a bad sign for the ashes in which they are likely to cop an absolute barrage of the supercharged and accurate swing bowling of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris. Infact the entire batting order of England will be extremely dissapointed with their performance so far in this game with little if anything gained so far. A huge confidence boost for Australia though with the poor English batting form an excellent mismatch for the surplus of Bowling strength that Australia has. To top it all off, the Oz much maligned batsmen are found form in their tour game and also are used to facing up to bowlers (net practice) considerably quicker and more accurate than anything they will face face from Broad or Finn though admittedly Anderson is class.

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    That "very ordinary attack" has England currently at 6/206 after being gifted 1st chance to bat on after bopara had this to say 'It looks a lovely day to score runs so we'll have a bowl,'...

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Wow? This is horrible from the english, the top six batsman in the country dismissed for under 200. It's a warmup game and it's early but Aus take early honours.

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    If the cricket schedule was better organised the England players could play for their counties a bit more ..

  • RandyOZ on June 30, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    Yep, incredibly worried about the English batsman.

  • MarkTaffin on June 30, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    Still perplexed about the "benefits" of Test quality batsmen preparing for the Ashes against a very ordinary county attack.

  • on June 30, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    Why on earth are England playing at Chelmsford?

    It's the worst wicket to bat on in the County Championship.

    Hardly surprising that Joe Root ends up with an injured knee.

  • jmcilhinney on June 30, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Some aspects of this match may be a little contrived but it's important to remember that the only real purpose of the game is to get the England players into the correct frame of mind to play the long form of the game again after so much limited-overs cricket lately. Unlike Australia, the England players have no need to get used to conditions so it's just about adjusting to time frames involved. Hopefully Root suffers no long term ill effects from that knock on the knee. At least if he does, Compton has shown a bit of something against Australia recently and he wouldn't mind the chance to re-stake a claim to that opener spot.

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  • jmcilhinney on June 30, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    Some aspects of this match may be a little contrived but it's important to remember that the only real purpose of the game is to get the England players into the correct frame of mind to play the long form of the game again after so much limited-overs cricket lately. Unlike Australia, the England players have no need to get used to conditions so it's just about adjusting to time frames involved. Hopefully Root suffers no long term ill effects from that knock on the knee. At least if he does, Compton has shown a bit of something against Australia recently and he wouldn't mind the chance to re-stake a claim to that opener spot.

  • on June 30, 2013, 13:39 GMT

    Why on earth are England playing at Chelmsford?

    It's the worst wicket to bat on in the County Championship.

    Hardly surprising that Joe Root ends up with an injured knee.

  • MarkTaffin on June 30, 2013, 14:05 GMT

    Still perplexed about the "benefits" of Test quality batsmen preparing for the Ashes against a very ordinary county attack.

  • RandyOZ on June 30, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    Yep, incredibly worried about the English batsman.

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    If the cricket schedule was better organised the England players could play for their counties a bit more ..

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Wow? This is horrible from the english, the top six batsman in the country dismissed for under 200. It's a warmup game and it's early but Aus take early honours.

  • on June 30, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    That "very ordinary attack" has England currently at 6/206 after being gifted 1st chance to bat on after bopara had this to say 'It looks a lovely day to score runs so we'll have a bowl,'...

  • on June 30, 2013, 15:01 GMT

    Cook and Trott falling to the pace of mills is a bad sign for the ashes in which they are likely to cop an absolute barrage of the supercharged and accurate swing bowling of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris. Infact the entire batting order of England will be extremely dissapointed with their performance so far in this game with little if anything gained so far. A huge confidence boost for Australia though with the poor English batting form an excellent mismatch for the surplus of Bowling strength that Australia has. To top it all off, the Oz much maligned batsmen are found form in their tour game and also are used to facing up to bowlers (net practice) considerably quicker and more accurate than anything they will face face from Broad or Finn though admittedly Anderson is class.

  • HawK89 on June 30, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    If these warmup matches are anything to go on, then this will be another great Ashes series to watch, otherwise it will be 1 sided for 5 test matches of England winning from day 1.

  • RoBoBobster on June 30, 2013, 16:22 GMT

    not sure if Swann and Bresnan getting runs is good or not as we want them playing well but it says things about other batsmen (which to be fair is said through their starts without bigger scores - 5 of top 7 made 20, no one made 50, says temperament is the main issue to me