The Ashes 2013-14 November 3, 2013

Saker wants bowlers under pressure

A hailstorm, heavy rain and temperatures about 20 degrees lower than Perth greeted England's cricketers as they arrived in Hobart for the second leg of their Ashes warm-up.

The players were quick to take to Twitter to say how much it felt like home - and bemoan not packing a few warmer clothes - and for England's bowlers the feeling of something more familiar is likely to extend a bit further than the climate when they face Australia A this week on a ground that has a reputation for a spicy wicket and low scores.

They would be wise, however, not get too comfortable if they see some seam movement and swing because the batting-friendly conditions they encountered at the WACA are more likely to be the norm for the next few months.

Other than James Anderson, who eased into the tour with an accurate 23 overs against the WA Chairman's XI, it was an unconvincing performance from his fellow fast bowlers - the three who are trying to secure one vacant spot in the attack for the Gabba.

In fairness to Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlettand Steven Finn there was an upward curve as the match progressed through its final day but a reasonably low bar had been set in the first innings as they trio produced combined figures of 64-6-303-2.

Anderson could be rested this week in Tasmania with Stuart Broad who, like Alastair Cook, had a few back issues in Perth needing to get his tour up and running while Graeme Swann also sat out the opening match. That means only two of the three other quicks are likely to find a spot in a match where England will hope to increase their intensity.

However, David Saker, the bowling coach who committed to England until 2015 at the beginning of the tour, was keen assure all his fringe bowlers that nothing would be decided on the basis of their first run out of a long tour.

"We're three days into a long tour and haven't really made any strong decisions yet, so they're still going to be fighting out for that one position," he said. "I think that's a really positive thing. You can see when they're working in the nets, or out in games, there's some added pressure on them which is great.

"We're always assessing after every session. People can jump [past] others and it just keeps changing all the time.

"From where I sit, it's exciting. I'm sure it isn't from where they sit. But it's always good having competition for spots because then you get probably the best out of everyone. If all of them bowl at their maximum, it's going to be a hell of a hard selection."

Saker was encouraged by the second-innings bowling display as the WA side closed on 5 for 168. Rankin, after a nervous start to his red-ball England career, removed both openers and Finn boosted his confidence with a brace of late strikes although still conceded more than five runs an over.

"They got some really good spells under their belts and all of them looked better as the game went on," Saker said. "That is a pleasing sign.

"Sometimes in Australia you get flat wickets and it's hard work. You've got to find different ways to get wickets, and the best way for us as a team is to try to build some pressure. As the game went on, I felt the guys were doing that. The last day was a good performance - 160 for 5 on that wicket."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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