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Anderson shines as Collingwood fills breach

England had to call on Paul Collingwood as a sub fielder Getty Images

England 293 and 5 for 0 (Stoneman 4*, Cook 1*) lead Cricket Australia XI 233 for 9 dec (Paine 52, Milenko 50, Crane 3-78) by 65 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The sight of a 41-year-old - even a 41-year-old as fit as Paul Collingwood - fielding at mid-on summed up the extent of England's injury concerns just two weeks from the start of the Ashes.

Collingwood, the squad's fielding coach, was pressed into service as a substitute fielder on the second day of the match against after Jake Ball was the latest member of the squad to suffer an injury.

Ball, who had probably already bowled himself into the team for the first Test, was midway through his fourth over when his ankle buckled in his delivery stride. While he was able to walk unaided from the field, he was diagnosed with a sprained ankle and, having not bowled again on the day, left the ground on crutches. The incident didn't look especially serious but, with options and time diminishing, the England management will be checking on his progress with some trepidation on Friday morning.

While Collingwood retired from Test cricket at the end of the 2010-11 Ashes, he scored more than 1000 runs for Durham in the 2017 County Championship and, only a few weeks ago, played in the World XI side in Lahore. There will be more than a few thinking he could still do as good a job in the middle order of this side as some of those picked for that role on tour. Even if he is, as Chris Woakes pointed out, old enough to be Mason Crane's father.

But the sight of Collingwood fielding in kit borrowed from Crane underlined the sense that England are enduring a torrid start to the tour. Through a series of unfortunate incidents - notably the injuries to Ball, Moeen Ali and Steven Finn - it is proving harder to plan for the first Test than they had envisaged. Combined with the success of unproven youngsters such as Daniel Fallins and Josh Philippe against them, and the realisation that conditions and opposition confronted in these warm-up games are a pale shadow of challenges ahead, and a picture might emerge of a team struggling against uneven odds. The sense from some England supporters - those who have had their optimism crushed by bitter experience - might be of a tour that is doomed to failure.

But there is no place for that thinking in the England squad. And, the incident with Ball aside, there were some encouraging moments from the second day of this match for England.

In particular, James Anderson again bowled beautifully. He could have claimed several wickets in his new-ball spell, moving the ball both ways and beating the bat frequently, while Woakes also appeared far sharper than in Perth and, combining pace with some movement, looked the most hostile member of the attack. He had Nick Larkin trapped half-forward by one angled in to him, while Jason Sangha was later caught at gully fending off a short ball.

With Ball and Craig Overton also starting well - Ball saw Ryan Gibson well held by England's new third-slip, Dawid Malan, as the batsman fished at a wide one while Overton, whose first 11 overs cost only 13, had Jake Carder pulling to mid-on - the Cricket Australia XI were reduced to 57 for 5.

But the loss of Ball stretched the attack. With England reluctant to overburden Anderson or Woakes, the CA middle-order rebuilt through a sixth-wicket stand of 86 between Tim Paine and Matt Short. While Crane started well, taking the wicket of the highly rated Will Pucovski when the batsmen inexplicably left a leg-break that pitched on middle and hit the top of off, he then provided a reminder that he is a 20-year-old legspinner learning his trade. Dropping short several times, he was punished with a succession of pulls and cuts and, as a result, taken out of the firing line.

It took the return of Anderson to break the stand. He had Short pushing at one that may have left him a fraction before Paine played across a straight one. And while Simon Milenko counter-attacked aggressively, hitting Overton for 19 in one over (including a six and three fours) in an eighth-wicket partnership of 54, the return of Crane ended their resistance.

Sensing an opportunity to exploit Alastair Cook's tentative start to the tour, the CA XI then declared to leave England an uncomfortable five overs under lights before stumps. It was negotiated without undue alarm, however, enabling England to add five to their first-innings lead of 60.

Earlier, Fallins had completed a five-wicket haul on his maiden first-class appearance. While Fallins admitted he enjoyed some luck on the opening day of this match, his fifth wicket, that of Anderson, was achieved with a perfect legbreak that spun past the forward prod. It meant England had lost their final five wickets for just 22 runs. A side that has prided itself on its lower-order resistance suddenly appears to have something of a tail. Whether you look at their fielding, their batting or their bowling, the holes left in the side by the absence of Ben Stokes are proving desperately hard to fill.

CA XI 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st0NCR LarkinJM Carder
2nd3NCR LarkinRJ Gibson
3rd4WJ PucovskiRJ Gibson
4th7TD PaineRJ Gibson
5th4RJ GibsonJJS Sangha
6th6MW ShortJJS Sangha
7th1S MilenkoMW Short
8th45GS SandhuMW Short
9th0GS SandhuD Fallins
10th5JR ColemanD Fallins