WA Chairman's XI v England XI, Perth, 1st day October 31, 2013

England endure wretched start to tour

Brad Elborough

Western Australia Chairman's X1 369 for 4 (Lynn 104, Towers 77, Harris 69) v England X1

The three England quick bowlers fighting for a spot in the first Ashes Test against Australia in 21 days' time received a rude awakening on the opening day against the Western Australia Chairman's XI at the WACA.

Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn are in a three-way battle for a spot in the England side at the Gabba on November 21, with Tim Bresnan still recuperating from a stress fracture in his back and unlikely to be seriously considered.

But none of them managed to impress as a second-string Western Australia side reached 369 for 4 by stumps on the first day on the back of a blistering 104 made by their No 3 Chris Lynn, only his third first-class century. Each of WA's top four batsmen made half centuries.

England's fast-bowling trio struggled for line and length on the WACA wicket and were expensive in their first official run out of the tour.

The hard-hitting Lynn was loaned to WA by Queensland, overlooked for their Sheffield Shield clash being played at the same time, even though he hit a six to win his state the national domestic title just one week ago.

He gave just one chance , with Chris Tremlett spilling a difficult chance at mid-on from the part-time offspin of Joe Root when he was on 66. Not that Root was blameless in the field. He grassed a sharp chance at first slip when Mitchell Marsh nicked one off the bowling of Finn.

The effort in the field would not have impressed the England captain Alastair Cook, who missed the first game of the tour because of sore back.

WA's no 1 side are involved in a Sheffield Shield game in Victoria and their squad has been stretched further by Mitchell Johnson, Adam Voges and Nathan Coulter-Nile being in India with the Australian one-day side.

The stand-in top order made the most of their chances against England, sending reminders to their state selectors of their talents.

Lynn's entertaining knock came off just 124 balls. Openers Luke Towers and Marcus Harris hit 77 and 69 respectively and Marsh, returning from a serious hamstring injury, hit 58 from 59 balls before he was the fourth and final wicket taken, caught behind by Matt Prior from the bowling of Ben Stokes.

England had to wait until the third over after lunch before claiming its first scalp. It was senior statesman James Anderson, easily the pick of the bowlers, who forced Marcus Harris to fend a short ball to Ian Bell in the gully.

The breaks in play could have had as much to do with WA losing its first two wickets as did any consistent bowling from the England attack with the second wicket coming in the first over after the tea break. After a patient knock, Towers edged a short delivery from Root to keeper Prior while attempting a cut when the score was 225.

It was a galling experience for Prior, who was having his first taste of England captaincy as well as being a world apart from their start to their last Australia tour in 2010 when they retained the Ashes.

England fielded a full-strength side when they won the corresponding game against WA by six wickets. On this occasion, only five of their side - Prior, Root, Bell, Jonathan Trott and Anderson - are guaranteed a spot in Brisbane.

The three bowlers hoping to join Anderson and Stuart Broad in the attack have a maximum of two further outings before the opening Test, after this game, to impress the England selectors. England will leave Perth for a four-day game against Australia A in Hobart before competing their preparation for the first Test with another four-day contest against a NSW XI at the SCG.

Rankin struggled to find a good length, particularly in the first of his three spells, producing several rank full-tosses. His first four overs cost him 29 runs. He recovered and beat the bat several times in his second spell. His one wicket, that of Lynn, caught by Michael Carberry at backward point, came in his third over. But he went for nearly five runs an over.

Tremlett was used at both ends over five short spells, but he often overpitched and, for all his height, failed to make the most of the usually bouncy WACA wicket. He rarely troubled the WA batsmen and went for just over four runs for each of his 17 overs.

Finn was the least impressive of the trio though, a fact highlighted by three consecutive short-pitched deliveries that were pulled for four by Towers just after the lunch break. He also gave up more than 4.5 runs per over.

The England medical team will be doing their best to get Bresnan fit as quickly as they can.