Invitational XI v England XI, Tour match, SCG November 16, 2013

Bresnan absence weighs heavy


England XI 418 (Trott 84, Cook 81, Root 75, Pietersen 57) and 151 for 3 (Carberry 50) beat CA Invitational XI 304 (Carters 94, Nevill 83, Cowan 51, Finn 5-103, Broad 4-37) and 261 (Finch 59, Rankin 3-46, Finn 3-88) by seven wickets

England will miss Tim Bresnan enormously at the start of the Ashes series and his replacement will be targeted by Australia's batsmen, regardless of who is chosen by the team director, Andy Flower. So says the former Test opener Ed Cowan, who ran his eyes across the tourists' bowling options during England's final warm-up match before the Gabba Test, a seven-wicket victory over an Invitational XI at the SCG.

Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn have all shown hints of their best in the two matches each have been granted ahead of England's arrival in Brisbane, but none have done so with the consistency demanded of a Test match bowler, particularly as one of only four options for the touring captain Alastair Cook. A sandy outfield offered some mitigating circumstances in Sydney, but Rankin and Finn still lost plenty by comparison with a far more precise Stuart Broad.

While Cowan reckoned England appeared largely ready for Brisbane, he was adamant that Bresnan's absence will be keenly felt until he can return to full fitness, much as it was during Shane Watson's domineering 176 in the final Test of the previous series at The Oval. "The only real question mark is who's going to fill that third seamer role," Cowan said. "The top order looks pretty settled, they all look in pretty good touch, but certainly I think that third bowler until Tim Bresnan comes back will probably be the one issue that keeps popping up.

"I thought Boyd bowled beautifully with the old ball yesterday, that spell screamed Test bowler, but that was the only one in the game that really lived up to what they're looking for from him. But I'm sure he'll be a very, very different proposition at the Gabba. He bowls a heavy ball, quick enough, but if you continually get too short at the Gabba you'll get murdered. [Rankin and Finn] were probably too short all game.

"I just think Bresnan's a massive player for them. Unsung hero, bowls a huge amount of overs, never really gets hit out of the attack, takes big wickets, and as we saw during the last Ashes series scores some really important runs. That's a huge out and I think Australia will look to exploit that, the third seamer."

The hosts' chances of setting a target of note for Cook's team were scotched by the loss of Peter Nevill and Ryan Carters within two runs of each other on the final morning. From there England were always likely to be pursuing something in the region of 150, enough to provide an afternoon's opportunity to groove the batting further but not the volume of runs required for the legspinner James Muirhead and the rest to have a realistic hope of forcing their own victory.

Nonetheless, Muirhead offered another tantalising glimpse of his considerable spin bowling talents, bowling Cook with sharp turn out of the rough as England's captain tried to cut, then confusing Michael Carberry over a period of time before ending his innings with a skied pull shot and a catch at midwicket. Jonathan Trott should also have fallen to Muirhead's often prodigious leg breaks, advancing down the wicket and edging, only for slip to put the catch down.

At the other end Kevin Pietersen played a brief and skittish innings, eventually bowled by a Chris Tremain delivery that deserved greater respect than the dismissive whip to leg the batsman chose to offer. Trott and Ian Bell cantered home under the SCG floodlights, though on a pitch now bearing very little resemblance to the one they can expect to greet them at the Gabba.

"It was a bit of a heyday SCG wicket, one of the best I've played on in Australia for a long time," Cowan said. "Something for the fast bowlers early, good to bat on, a bit of reverse swing and then we saw today if that was a Test wicket, there would've been significant turn late day four and day five, which is exactly what you want.

"It was great to see him [Muirhead] in the game. We saw that his best deliveries are well and truly good enough to get world-class players out. The next step is how many balls he can bowl in the right place, but it was a good guide for the future."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 18, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    Bresnan's absence does NOT weigh heavy. Finn and Rankin are FAr superior bowlers.

  • John on November 18, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    Think it's going to be a tight series - a lot of comments here and in the press saying england will win comfortably etc, but if johnson and harris are fit and firing (forgetting siddle) then the aussies will be a tough prospect for any batting line-up. From what i saw of tremlett in the warm-up games he didn't look like the tremlett of old, so i think that we are relying a lot on anderson and broad. The aussie batting line-up is a lot more settled now too and bailey adds stablility there too. However i do think a lot of the england batsmen are due big runs. So hoping for a more exciting series than the one in england (hopefully with a similar result!).

  • rob on November 18, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    @ hhillbumper: I'm sure I'll regret this, but it's killing me. I have to know. What the hell is this "aid" you use in place of Oz. I guess it's an acronym, but what does it mean. I'll also assume it's not too flattering for us, but that's OK, like I said, I'm dying to know.

  • Graham on November 17, 2013, 23:05 GMT

    hhillbumper ; Its hard to say whether the shield quality and county cricket which is the better quality. I think there are a lot more average players in county cricket but that is probably due to the number of teams. Darren Pattinson can put in performances in County Cricket good enough to get a game for England, but as an Aussie struggled for a Victorian spot. You also look at the performance of Copeland (been good in shield but excellent in county), other aussies like Magoffin, Hogan were very good and Robson couldn't get a game for NSW so became an Englishman. There are other AUssies running around like Allenby and Johnson who are quite some distant of playing Shield cricket. But we have 6 first class teams and not sure how many you have, so the extra teams means players of less quality will get games. However, the top end players are just as good in both competetions.

  • Martin on November 17, 2013, 21:36 GMT

    @milepost. Hilarious. You talk about "the reality of now" and then conveniently ignore it and go off talking about 2006/7. AND btw we DID mention the reality of now - the reality, if you wanted any more of it is that if England are short of 2 test quality bowlers then Australia are short of 4. Although I love Harris (a gutsy wholehearted competitor in the true Aussie spirit) - he won't play more than 3 tests and then Australia won't have bowlers at all. And if you are going to talk about sides "being short of test quality...." - how many batsmen are Australia short of, eh? 5? 6? And as for you @FFLNAH if you think we are writing about "how resilient" Aus were in England then read it again because Australia were about as resilient as a Tim-Tam in 40 degrees, especially in Durham when Broad turned up the heat. Enjoy.

  • Cameron on November 17, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    hhillbumper I dont think the shield is any less competitive than County Cricket. Don't forget Carberry was plucked from Division 2 despite being heavily outscored by Compton in Division 1. In saying that, I rate Carberry and I think he might well cause the Aussies some problems if he can get some starts. Here here to all the hot air blowing away as we get to the cricket, my own hot air included!

  • W on November 17, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    I can assure you it is coincidence I am one and the same :-) c'mon it is all a bit of fun. I am a cricket enthusiast and there has to be someone to counter the snooty English comments which in fairness, you have been walloping us for a few series on the trott so are entitled to. I think it is all fun, no hard feelings here. It is time we get one back though and now is a good opportunity.

  • stuart on November 17, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    Well not long to go now til all the supposition and hot air is over. I see one poster saying that the aid players are in form. But then having played in shield is the standard that good? England have players in touch who have done well in aid in the past. It will depend on a number of factors not least whether aid can hold it together. If the pressure comes to bear will they cope. What happens if Harris gets injured. England have a proven line-up which is something you can't say for aid. It should be good though

  • John on November 17, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @5wombats on (November 17, 2013, 9:00 GMT) Just a thought here. FFS has become prolific with his comms recently and yet we're missing a similar commentor. Re the "cupboard is bare" terminology. A new guise or just coincidence?

  • John on November 17, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer - Despite what a rusty Onions did in India/NZ - I'd still have taken him over Tremlett. 1-100+ (in warm up games vs lesser players)is hardly proof that Tremlett was a good choice. In his last 6 or 7 FC matches CT took 8 for vs Durham which is great , but take those figures out and he only took 2 wickets once and that was against the weakest opposition possible. I read reports from folk who have seen CT last season and they are not good either. Even if you say Onions ship has sailed or his style isn't suited to these pitches , surely we have better options than Tremlett ...

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