Invitational XI v England XI, Tour match, SCG November 13, 2013

Wicketkeeping duo repel England


CA Invitational XI 271 for 5 (Carters 94*, Nevill 75*) vs England XI

Stuart Broad's location of something like his best form was counterbalanced by largely indifferent displays from Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin as the England tourists were frustrated by Ryan Carters and Peter Nevill on day one of the tour match in Sydney.

Cricket Australia had bowed to ECB pressure to bolster what would have otherwise been a New South Wales Second XI, but the strongest resistance was ultimately provided by two men who would have been playing regardless. Carters and Nevill, each behind Brad Haddin in the NSW wicketkeeping order of preference after moving from Victoria, combined for an undefeated stand of 178 to raise a few questions for the England team director Andy Flower.

Chief among these was how to choose between Rankin, who was tidy without claiming a wicket, and the more profligate but also penetrative Finn as the two had an opportunity to press for the final pace bowling spot in the first Test.

During the 2010-11 Ashes tour, Finn lost his place to Chris Tremlett after claiming regular wickets in the first two Tests but releasing the pressure being built up at the other end by offering liberal helpings of the short and wide. He did so again at the SCG, and not even a sandy, top-dressed outfield could prevent plenty of his deliveries scuttling away to the fence.

Broad's performance was altogether more reassuring, showcasing his speed, bounce and increasing command of the correct lengths for each pitch he encounters. He admitted later to feeling sore in the legs due to the heavy nature of the outfield, but otherwise appears ready for the Gabba.

Graeme Swann appears less so, though he was not helped by a surface that seems to have lost its previous attraction for slow bowlers. There were fewer full tosses than he had delivered rustily in Hobart, and there will need to be fewer still against an Australian batting line-up now stacked with right-handers to counter him.

England's priorities for the match were made clear the moment Cook won the toss and sent the locals in to bat, despite a surface that looked amenable to run-scoring and a refreshingly blue sky after two days of rain which had detracted from the tourists' training. The last place in the bowling attack remains open, and after Tremlett completed the second of his two matches in Hobart it was now the turn of Rankin and Finn to state a claim following jetlagged displays in Perth.

They could take precise cues from Broad, who quickly built up a decent head of steam from the Randwick End while finding the sort of fuller length at which he is most menacing. Aaron Finch was unable to cope, edging an away seamer through to England's Brisbane wicketkeeper-elect Jonny Bairstow, and so maintaining his maddeningly poor first-class record despite increasingly promising limited-overs outings for Australia.

Another to suffer from a similar lurgy is Callum Ferguson, who has never been truly close to Test contention, although equally accomplished when granted the chance to play ODIs. Batting at No. 3 for a team that has at various times been the NSW Second XI, a NSW Invitational XI and ultimately a CA Invitational XI, Ferguson was probably out lbw to Broad a few balls before he was given out in the same fashion, both deliveries seaming back towards the stumps.

Ed Cowan, still without a first-class century since what had seemed a breakthrough innings against South Africa in Brisbane a year ago, made a neat enough start. He lost another partner when Kurtis Patterson followed a Finn ball angled across him and snicked into the England cordon, but then formed the kernel of a decent stand with the older, wiser Ben Rohrer.

They took the hosts to lunch without alarm, but soon afterwards Rohrer fell to a rasping catch at backward point by Michael Carberry, his outstretched right hand stopping a cut shot on what had seemed an inevitable path to the boundary. Next over Cowan fell to another full-blooded but airborne stroke, pulling Finn straight to midwicket, and walked off cursing himself at passing 50 for the 10th time since the Gabba century without once going on to three figures.

At 5 for 85 Cook and Carberry harboured thoughts of batting around tea time, but they were to find doughty adversaries in the form of two men who should be rivals. Nevill and Carters and the Nos. 2 and 3 NSW glovemen behind the Australian vice-captain Haddin, but on this day they became batting allies, presenting straight bats and patient attitudes to prolong the innings.

They played without undue haste but enough scoring intent to prevent England's bowlers from settling, rotating the strike neatly against Swann while capitalising on errors of length from Rankin and Finn. Cook resorted to Jonathan Trott and Joe Root in the overs leading up to the second new ball, but the honeytrap did not distract either batsman. Several figures in NSW cricket expressed surprise when the equivalent WA XI declared their first innings five wickets down two weeks ago, meaning Carters and Nevill are likely to resume with the intent of keeping the Englishmen in the field for some time yet.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • D on November 15, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Yeah clearly England got put to sword when they made 400 and they made 303 . Likely end in draw but England played well enough all proper batsmen minus carberry made a score and tail ended added few runs too . Though carberry already made runs . I stand by my earlier comments if England make 400 plus run Aussies are in trouble as they need match or better it .

  • John on November 14, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    @milepost on (November 14, 2013, 14:57 GMT) Fair call. I guess I must have missed those posts or they were written in invisible ink but I noticed you posted a balanced piece today so I'm counting 2 in 1 day.

  • Cameron on November 14, 2013, 14:57 GMT

    @JG2047, there's quite a big difference, at least I hope so! I often say really nice things about England because I am a cricket fan. A number of my favourite players are in the England side and 2005 was my all time favourite series (during which time I lived in England and believe me I copped plenty of stick). The best cricket though, it was awesome. So I accept if people think there's a few barbs here and there but I give credit where it is due - like today the English batsman played well and I won't blame the attack or the pitch - they are very good players. Is that different enough!?

  • David on November 14, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    Yorkshirepudding - the whole argument about non native players is pretty silly, but I reckon your figures are misleading. Quite a few of Australia's overseas born were 19th century, when a large percentage of the Australian population were immigrants from the UK ( including my ancestors). I'd be interested to see the comparative percentages from 1900 on. By the way, seeing the side is called 'England', did you include Denness, Croft etc as foreign born?

  • John on November 14, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    @milepost on (November 14, 2013, 7:33 GMT) And how exactly do you differ from FFL? Only difference is one constantly downplays one country and the other another

  • Geoffrey on November 14, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    @RandyOZ- you are right, Australia will be in plenty of trouble when the real thing starts. Gee, I hope you have your excuses ready. Can't wait to hear them!

  • Cameron on November 14, 2013, 7:33 GMT

    @trainstationer is the new lunge huh? At least lunge does taunt us with facts occasionally! Good to see England among the runs, they need to be on this track against this attack. Getting excited, only a week to go. Not keen on getting up at 3 in the morning but.....

  • Basil on November 14, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    Harris, Siddle, Johnson, Pattinson, Starc, Cummins, Bird, Hilfenhaus, Bollinger, Faulkner, plus a number yet to debut. I don't get the "no depth" thing.

  • Tom on November 14, 2013, 1:13 GMT

    @ xtrafalgarx lol yes in 5 years time England might have a new look attack, and Australia might have lost 6 Ashes series in a row.

    P.S. how old is Ryano? how old is Mitch? how many times have they been sidelined with injury in their careers already? and the youngsters not proving so robust already.

  • James on November 14, 2013, 0:29 GMT

    @Train Stationer: Time will tell mate, but at the moment from what i can see, i'd rather be on our side of the fence.

    @Engerland: The truth is,you would be lucky walking on any Australian street and find even a second generation Australian. "We all came here." is the saying in Australia.