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Rain frustrates England preparations

England XI 470 for 5 and 190 (Dala 5-34) drew with SA Invitational XI 188 (Klaasen 48, Broad 3-18) and 5 for 0
Scorecard

England's hopes of narrowing down their bowling options ahead of the Boxing Day Test were thwarted by a spectacular thunderstorm that wiped out the final afternoon of their opening warm-up game at Potchefstroom.

After a wicket-laden morning session in which England lost their seven remaining wickets to be bowled out for 190 in their second innings, the South Africa Invitational XI's reply was limited to two overs - one apiece for James Anderson and Mark Footitt - before the heavens opened to wash out the remaining two sessions.

The lost overs were particularly unfortunate for Footitt, who still hopes to make his Test debut at Durban next week but struggled for rhythm in the first innings of the match. He and Chris Woakes appear to be in contention for a solitary berth as the third seamer, although their team-mate James Taylor appeared to favour the left-arm line and 90mph pace that Footitt can offer.

"What an exciting bowler he is," he said. "Anyone who can swing it consistently at 90mph is a great asset to have and he showed in glimpses what he can do in this game. He's a great asset and I'm sure he'll play a big part in the series.

"Unfortunately we couldn't get a few more overs into the bowlers but that's the way it is when you come to places like the Highveld and the weather kicks in,'' Taylor added. "We've come straight off the back of the UAE and the boys have hit plenty of balls out there. It's just about getting used to the surfaces we're playing on and the different conditions."

England's morning collapse wasn't ideal preparation either, although with an overnight lead of 381 runs, it was not a major concern for the management, especially given that most of their batsmen had enjoyed good time in the middle in the first innings of the game.

The pick of the attack was once again Junior Dala, the Zambia-born seamer whose twin dismissals of Alex Hales had already been the main talking point of the match. He finished his good work to return figures of 5 for 34 in 12 overs.

His victims today included Gary Ballance, another batsman who failed to advance his case for inclusion in the first Test. He made 25 from 46 balls in a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket with Joe Root, but gave away his start with an unconvincing pull to Thandolwethu Mynaka.

In the very next over, Jonny Bairstow was adjudged caught behind for a golden duck off Dieter Klein, before Root, whose Test position at No.4 is one of the few to have been rubber-stamped, was caught feathering an edge down the leg side to give Dala his second wicket of the morning.

That collapse of three wickets in eight balls put the skids under England's innings, and the tail did little to arrest the slide. Woakes pulled Dala straight to midwicket for 4 before Stuart Broad completed the bowler's five-for by snicking an attempted leave to the keeper.

Moeen Ali (20) and Ben Stokes (27) hung around for a while, adding 34 for the ninth wicket before falling in quick succession to Andile Phehlukwayo, leaving Taylor, making an improbable appearance at No.11, high and dry on 0 not out from five balls.

Taylor, who made 114 in England's rather more successful first innings of 470 for 5, warned his team afterwards that there was no room for any more collective failures as the intensity builds towards the Boxing Day Test, starting with Sunday's second and final warm-up against South Africa A at Potchefstroom.

"It's definitely a habit we need to get out of, you don't want to get into those habits of losing clumps of wickets and in the past that has happened," he said. "We're disappointed with how many wickets we lost in that first session but it happens, especially early in a tour, and it's a good thing for us to learn from - as long as we are learning from it and don't keep making those mistakes.

"The intensity is going to get ramped up in the next game against South Africa A, which is going to be a good challenge. But whatever opposition you're playing you don't want those collapses and for whatever reason it happened we've got to focus as a batting unit for that not to happen on this trip."

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