CA Chairman's XI v England XI, Tour match, Alice Springs, 1st day November 29, 2013

Ballance lone bright spot for England

49

CA Chairman's XI 16 for 0 trail England XI 212 for 7 (Ballance 55) by 196 runs
Scorecard

Like many before them, several of this England squad arrived in Northern Territory looking for a land of opportunity, only to find it can be a harsh, unforgiving place.

This part of Australia is undeniably beautiful. But it can also be brutal. And, as England may be discovering, a single mistake can have disastrous consequences. Coming back from the Test defeat in Brisbane, if they could do it, might prove as great an achievement as anything in their recent history.

This two-day game against modest opposition should have been a chance for batsmen to find form and bowlers to find rhythm. Instead it has probed at weaknesses and provided another reminder of the poor form of some in the squad. It has been, to date, something of a wasted opportunity for England.

Certainly the continuing struggle of Matt Prior, with the bat at least, has extended well beyond the 'blip' phase. Not only has he scored just 56 runs in six first-class innings on this tour but, since mid-May, he has batted 24 times in first-class cricket and not made a half-century. Indeed, he has scored just 351 runs at an average of 16.71.

Quite where things have gone wrong for Prior is unclear. In May he was presented with England's Player of the Year award for the previous 12 months and there has been no absence of hard work since. But the man who was, not so long ago, talked about as a possible No. 6, is currently batting with the tentative uncertainly of a No. 8; pushing at balls in hope, rather than waiting with confidence. Here, after a couple of characteristically flowing strokes, he perished to an outside edge after flirting with one he would have been well advised to leave alone.

Joe Root's dress rehearsal as No. 3 - he opened here but is most likely to take Jonathan Trott's position in the second Test in Adelaide - was also underwhelming. Not for the first time, he perished attempting a back foot force and slicing to gully. It is not a low risk stroke on Australia's quick wickets.

Perhaps such an assessment undersells the performance of this Chairman's XI attack. On a pitch offering assistance throughout, the inexperienced seamers acquitted themselves impressively, maintaining a probing line and length and benefiting from a painfully slow outfield that gave batsmen little value for their strokes. Simon Mackin, a towering 21-year-old with Western Australia, was the pick, though Jake Doran, the 16-year-old keeper, will also remember the day with fondness after taking a fine, low catch to dismiss Ian Bell.

The one England player who enhanced his reputation was Gary Ballance. On the thin evidence available, it seems likely that Ballance will make his Test debut in Adelaide and bat at No. 6. Here he showed admirable patience in compiling a half-century - it took him 124 balls to get there - though how meaningful runs against the Chairman's XI spinners are ahead of a Test against Mitchell Johnson and co is debateable.

Ballance is not, at this stage, the finished article. For a start he is, by England's high standards, below the required fitness levels. But he has an excellent record, is highly regarded and, crucially, is the man in the right position at the right time. His chance of going on to make an unarguable case for selection was ended after a mix-up with Bell but, perhaps due as much to the failures of others as his own success, he looks to be in pole position. Opportunity knocks for him.

Meanwhile Michael Carberry clipped a half-volley to midwicket, Bell edged a decent one that he could have left and Ben Stokes' pleasing innings was ended by an outstanding catch at short leg.

Jonny Bairstow also batted nicely but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that he does not feature particularly prominently in the England management's plans. Not only was he obliged to bat at No. 7 - surely too low for someone being considered for a spot in Adelaide - but the declaration also came before he had an opportunity to press his claims.

Both Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin then bowled with admirable pace, but neither made the batsmen play enough. Rankin, in particular, overdid the short ball. Neither have, to date, done their chances of usurping Chris Tremlett as third seamer much good.

There was, at least, encouraging news off the pitch. The sight of Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad working together in the nets - Pietersen as coach; Broad as batsman learning to combat the short ball - would have been impossible not so long ago. Pietersen, underlining his reaffirmed commitment to the team ethic, also appeared as 12th man in the dying overs of the day as Root was suffering from stomach trouble. He is expected to be fine in the morning.

Tim Bresnan would appear to have a much better chance of playing in the second Test, having performed creditably for the England Performance Programme in Queensland. He will join the Test squad on Sunday and undergo an assessment by the medical team. If he is deemed fully fit - and it is likely he will be - then he will be added to the squad for the rest of the tour.

But it was the batsmen, not the bowlers, who let England down in Brisbane. Bringing in Bresnan would be like calling the coast guard for a house fire.

The rest of the EPP squad - Tymal Mills, Moeen Ali et al - will next meet the full Test squad ahead of the Perth Test. There are no plans for any of them to be added to the Test squad at this stage, though they will be utilised as net bowlers in Perth.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 1, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    Yes, agree, Bresnan is o Botham, but a seriously handy cricketer and ally good inclusion fornAdelaide, Melbourne and sydney.

    The author's focus on England's batting over bowling is a bit weird. England need to win a match to win. All the runs in the world won't matter if Broad is left to do too much

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 30, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    @DJAbacus, I agree, it is only one test but to be fair we've been on the back of some poor cricket so a massive win at the Gabba was uplifting. However, I can't see how England can handle our pace attack. A 20kph difference between the bowling units is significant and we made 700 runs with wickets to spare and England failed twice on a good wicket. Your 3 has gone home (a very very good player), Root has just failed twice again (as he does with regularity), Cook is all over the place, Prior is so out of form I think his career is in jeopardy. Bell and KP aren't getting any runs. It's just really hard to see them not getting really well beaten on current form. I don't think they will make runs in Adelaide, I expect the to continue their 18 innings run of not going past 400 and the bowlers are bowling with a shuttlecock.

  • milepost on November 30, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Agree @disco_bob, it's telling they still have no second or third seamer options. England will have a field day in Adelaide, many of them I suspect.

  • disco_bob on November 30, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    2nd day report Panesar and Swann in the wickets, but it's a kind of a glass half full situation as it may be more pertinent to say Stokes, Finn and Rankin between them took one tail end wicket for 140 runs in 43 overs.

  • milepost on November 30, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    @David Brumby, spot on. I mean some here would slate Australia underwater but that jealously came from the ease with which Australia used to dispatch England with and how they are obviously doing so again now after cruising effortlessly to the 5th largest victory in Ashes history. A wicket or two in the start of an inning and the England batters will be knowing exactly what is to come.

  • on November 30, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Isnt't it amusing reading all the jealousy towards the Aussies and the terror of those same people that Australia might be on its way up again.

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 29, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    Anyone would think this side of Clarke's wee Bradman's Invincibles. They are not but one of the most vincible sides around. Therefore the lack of any sort of positive input either from writers or from comments here I find intolerable. We won in India and we won in the summer. 1 victory does not redeem them

  • TheBigBoodha on November 29, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    This is a great test for Cook's captaincy. There are times in life when everything just falls into place, & you don't even have to try.

    This is not one of those times.

    Everything seemed to go right during the English series. Even when Eng played poorly, somebody bowled well right at the end, rain saved their butt or they got a fortuitous umpiring call. Such is life. You take it when it comes your way. When it doesn't, you man up...

  • TheBigBoodha on November 29, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    One thing that makes me think that Eng might not only lose but could get thrashed, is this bizarre victim mentality which has befallen the team, Eng media & some fans. Images of them stonewalling the press in Brisbane didn't look good. Good teams just don't do that. It's like they now see that the world is against them. Sorry, but I read that Broad story in the Courier-mail, and it was meant to be humorous. It does not an anti-England conspiracy make. The Clarke incident at the end of the 1st test is not evidence of a sledging war. It was out of character for Clarke, coming in the heat of the moment. Though certainly foolish & inappropriate, Warner's press comments were more playful than vicious - mere banter with pressmen - take a look yourself on YouTube! Note that all early comments laughed Warner's words off as a joke - till media spin turned them into outrage.

  • dreamliner on November 29, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Moeen Ali scored more than 2,000 runs in all forms of the game this summer, and took 55 wickets with his off-spin bowling. He is also the 2013 Player of the Year award as voted for by the Professional Cricketers Association. Bresnan scored 57no and took 4 wickets in the first innings against Queensland in which Moeen didn't ball but made 83 with the bat. More importantly in the second innings Bresnan went wicketless after a duck and the ball was thrown to Moeen who took 5 wickets with his offspin, that of batsmen no3,4,5,6 & 7, effected the run out of Joey Burns their no3 centurion, and also remained not out himself when being made to bat lower down the order. A 5 for and 100+ runs down under for the 2013 player of the year. Eureka Let's legislate that a place in the 1st XI must be pre-reserved for the player of the year. At least we'll have one more match winner in the side this way.

  • on December 1, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    Yes, agree, Bresnan is o Botham, but a seriously handy cricketer and ally good inclusion fornAdelaide, Melbourne and sydney.

    The author's focus on England's batting over bowling is a bit weird. England need to win a match to win. All the runs in the world won't matter if Broad is left to do too much

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 30, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    @DJAbacus, I agree, it is only one test but to be fair we've been on the back of some poor cricket so a massive win at the Gabba was uplifting. However, I can't see how England can handle our pace attack. A 20kph difference between the bowling units is significant and we made 700 runs with wickets to spare and England failed twice on a good wicket. Your 3 has gone home (a very very good player), Root has just failed twice again (as he does with regularity), Cook is all over the place, Prior is so out of form I think his career is in jeopardy. Bell and KP aren't getting any runs. It's just really hard to see them not getting really well beaten on current form. I don't think they will make runs in Adelaide, I expect the to continue their 18 innings run of not going past 400 and the bowlers are bowling with a shuttlecock.

  • milepost on November 30, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Agree @disco_bob, it's telling they still have no second or third seamer options. England will have a field day in Adelaide, many of them I suspect.

  • disco_bob on November 30, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    2nd day report Panesar and Swann in the wickets, but it's a kind of a glass half full situation as it may be more pertinent to say Stokes, Finn and Rankin between them took one tail end wicket for 140 runs in 43 overs.

  • milepost on November 30, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    @David Brumby, spot on. I mean some here would slate Australia underwater but that jealously came from the ease with which Australia used to dispatch England with and how they are obviously doing so again now after cruising effortlessly to the 5th largest victory in Ashes history. A wicket or two in the start of an inning and the England batters will be knowing exactly what is to come.

  • on November 30, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    Isnt't it amusing reading all the jealousy towards the Aussies and the terror of those same people that Australia might be on its way up again.

  • 2.14istherunrate on November 29, 2013, 23:57 GMT

    Anyone would think this side of Clarke's wee Bradman's Invincibles. They are not but one of the most vincible sides around. Therefore the lack of any sort of positive input either from writers or from comments here I find intolerable. We won in India and we won in the summer. 1 victory does not redeem them

  • TheBigBoodha on November 29, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    This is a great test for Cook's captaincy. There are times in life when everything just falls into place, & you don't even have to try.

    This is not one of those times.

    Everything seemed to go right during the English series. Even when Eng played poorly, somebody bowled well right at the end, rain saved their butt or they got a fortuitous umpiring call. Such is life. You take it when it comes your way. When it doesn't, you man up...

  • TheBigBoodha on November 29, 2013, 22:27 GMT

    One thing that makes me think that Eng might not only lose but could get thrashed, is this bizarre victim mentality which has befallen the team, Eng media & some fans. Images of them stonewalling the press in Brisbane didn't look good. Good teams just don't do that. It's like they now see that the world is against them. Sorry, but I read that Broad story in the Courier-mail, and it was meant to be humorous. It does not an anti-England conspiracy make. The Clarke incident at the end of the 1st test is not evidence of a sledging war. It was out of character for Clarke, coming in the heat of the moment. Though certainly foolish & inappropriate, Warner's press comments were more playful than vicious - mere banter with pressmen - take a look yourself on YouTube! Note that all early comments laughed Warner's words off as a joke - till media spin turned them into outrage.

  • dreamliner on November 29, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Moeen Ali scored more than 2,000 runs in all forms of the game this summer, and took 55 wickets with his off-spin bowling. He is also the 2013 Player of the Year award as voted for by the Professional Cricketers Association. Bresnan scored 57no and took 4 wickets in the first innings against Queensland in which Moeen didn't ball but made 83 with the bat. More importantly in the second innings Bresnan went wicketless after a duck and the ball was thrown to Moeen who took 5 wickets with his offspin, that of batsmen no3,4,5,6 & 7, effected the run out of Joey Burns their no3 centurion, and also remained not out himself when being made to bat lower down the order. A 5 for and 100+ runs down under for the 2013 player of the year. Eureka Let's legislate that a place in the 1st XI must be pre-reserved for the player of the year. At least we'll have one more match winner in the side this way.

  • Meety on November 29, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    @ Nutcutlet on (November 29, 2013, 11:40 GMT) - I agree, scoring 0 is no big deal, I would be more concerned about scores of 20 to 40. @ Englishfan on (November 29, 2013, 17:35 GMT) - the thing about Bresnan is (IMO), he seems to be a bloke who adds bustle & grit. He will score handy runs when the team needs it & he gets wickets in the middle overs. If Swann is out of sorts - they need someone between the 20th & 80th over who'll look like taking a wicket. I have had high regard for Tremlett - & he COULD change his tour around, but England didn't really seem to have much intent in attack from the Haddin/MJ partnership onwards. People bagged Bresnan's inclusion in the last Ashes - what did he do - take wickets!

  • on November 29, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    @CM1000, you know little about Aussie cricket. These bowlers are the ones who can't make the state sides - the best bowlers outside the test team are playing Shield games in Melbourne, Hobart and Perth this weekend while James Pattinson returns in grade cricket for Dandenong in Melbourne, Jackson Bird for Kingbourough in Hobart and Patrick Cummins for the Penrith Panthers in Sydney Grade CrickeK

  • on November 29, 2013, 19:31 GMT

    England bounced back in India to win the series & created history. They will need a massive turnaround to win this series. Not sure if they can but it is a long series.

  • RoBoBobster on November 29, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    my preferred 11: 1/2 Cook 1/2 Carberry 3 Prior 4 KP 5 Bell 6 Root 7 Bairstow 8 Broad 9 Swann 10 Anderson 11 Panesar Englands probable 11 1/2 Cook 1/2 Carberry 3 Root 4 KP 5 Bell 6 Ballance 7 Prior 8 Bresnan 9 Broad 10 Swann 11Anderson can anyone give me one good reason not to have Prior at 3? change in mindset, in some ways a similar role, Bairstow can keep for nos 10 + 11 so he can rest up ready, and if he fails, the middle order is used to it, so whats changed?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on November 29, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    England are in need of a few of their top order, Carberry aside, to fire. I expect the Adeliade pitch, on which so many of these England players have played so magnificently on before, to be a prosperous one especially on days 2&3. Prior looks like he's taking longer than anyone of them to get over any niggles and play a big innings. Bowling no concern and long proven far more skillful than Australia's, and Anderson and Broad at 140kph+ as we've all seen many a time before is a proven wicket-taking weapon for the game to be grasped by the scruff of the neck in the opening 40 overs. Trott's departure comes at an awful time but the talented Root will take it on the chin and plant himself in the number 3 position. Obviously if England actually manage not to fold the game with the bat next match, Australia will no doubt crumble to an innings defeat as is the established norm, I for one fear for the attendance numbers at the match when this happens.

  • CodandChips on November 29, 2013, 17:35 GMT

    The only positive I can see other than Balance scoring some runs against a poor team is the selection. It indicates that everyone has a chance, which seems very un-England like. If Bairstow does better than Prior, I hope he plays instead. I would prefer Moeen at 3, and Finn in for Tremlett, but if Moeen doesn't play I would like Bell at 3 and Balance at 6.

    I don't want Bresnan. He is a medium pacer, low on fitness with decent control. Take away some of his batting and make him a bit taller, and you have Chris Tremlett. Bresnan would be the wrong way to go.

    But I doubt my wish will come true. Hoping that England will chance selection policy is like hoping you'll live forever. So Root's yoyo will pull him back up to 3, and Bairstow will be shoved back through the revolving door to bat at 6. And will be 2-0 down without any lessons learnt. Much rather be 2-0 down bu giving Balance or Moeen some experience

  • DJAbacus on November 29, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    @Front_Foot_Lunge_Needs_A_Hug

    I see the excitement of winning your first test match in 2 years against a top team still hasn't worn off yet... ;-)

  • JG2704 on November 29, 2013, 17:10 GMT

    cric_J on (November 29, 2013, 15:37 GMT) Sorry , I wasn't advocating that they should drop KP - Just that I thought it was strange to rest him as he's the only batsman on tour who's had no significant time in the middle and was questioning what he'd done which he needs a rest for. That's why I wondered if there was an injury niggle and suggested the rest Bell or Cook instead as they've looked the best of a bad bunch so fan on tour. I suppose the good thing was that in the test he looked in no real trouble apart from the 2 careless shots when he got out

  • Nutcutlet on November 29, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    @JG2704 (November 29 12:36 GMT): there is quite a lot that's known about KP, the most obvious point, upon which the cricketing world can agree, is that he is not as other players. There was no point in playing him in this two-day filler-cum-jolly-to-Uluru. He simply wouldn't be interested. KP doesn't do picnic games; he needs the buzz of the big match crowd. As for form - again - if he's feeling good in his own skin - that's all the form he needs. Rest easy - KP will do what he will do in the Tests independent of warm-ups, sit-ups or sit-downs. Sooner or later he'll tee-off. This match cannot deliver very much & when it was scheduled I doubt whether if was viewed as much more than a stretching exercise for the bib-brigade. But things have gone awry & now it's almost assumed the importance of aTest trial. The crumbs of evidence gathered so far tell me that Ballance is likely to make his debut at #6 now that Root has gone to #3. BTW, I'm glad that Woakes isn't there. Not Test class atm.

  • cric_J on November 29, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    @JG2704 : Have to disagree with you mate re dropping KP. He has too much of a sort of X-factor in him. He's the one England batsman who takes the game to the opposition and can change the nature of the game if he stays at the crease for a session and a half. Also, despite his horrid string of scores this tour, he hasn't really LOOKED in trouble at the crease, be it against Mitch's searing pace and short stuff or against Harris's accurate squeezing.I agree he's played some amazingly irresponsible shots for a player who's played 100 tests, but we need his flamboyance and dare-devil approach in our otherwise "mild" order.

    Also, I think resting him was mainly because KP, as a rule, never takes warm ups seriously and feels forever ready to face any international side. And I think his record justifies that sort of self confidence (touch of overconfidence maybe). Giving another player a go was probably a good idea after all.

  • cric_J on November 29, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    I agree with all other posters who believe it was a strange batting order England put out today. But the thing that puzzles me more is why did they do it ?

    Bell coming down at 6 and Joe coming out to open all but convinces me that Joe will be our No. 3 at Adelaide. Cook/Flower most probably wanted him to face the new ball and spend sufficient time at the crease, something which he will have to do as a no.3, so he was sent out early.

    Prior has looked completely out of sorts as of yet on this tour and needed enough time out there as opposed to Bell who looked decent at Brisbane and probably needed lesser time out , so he was held back at 6 while Matt came out early at 4.

    The most curious decision for me was sending Ballance out at 3. May be it means he's the front runner to come in at 6 at Adelaide instead of Bairstow. I personally want it to be Bairstow though.

    P.S. Couldn't watch the match so can anyone tell me what sort of pace did Finny/Rankin work up today ?

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 29, 2013, 14:51 GMT

    @liz1558, I agree with you! England are spent. It seems odd but it didn't happen overnight, they have been failing as a batting unit for a long time and 130kph just isn't enough. The worst performing wicket keeper in the game for the last 12 months, a tired one dimensional game plan and unfortunately as we saw in Brisbane, no resilience. I will absolutely stand by the comment for the rest of this series that they are through, they will not win a game this series. And yes I think many if their careers are done for either by retirement or being replaced. Sorry England fans but the writing is on the wall.

  • brusselslion on November 29, 2013, 14:09 GMT

    Wel, it certainly doesn't appear to be getting any better for England. Problems almost everywhere. No one seems to know what the pitch will play like in Adelaide, but I think that we need to go for it; play the extra bowler and hope that a couple of the top 6 come good (and this is more hope than expectation). Normally, I wouldn't suggest having Bairstow anywhere near the side, but Prior is in such poor form we have to make the change.

    My team for Adelaide: Cook, Carberry, Root, KP, Bell, Bairstow, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Finn, Anderson and hope for the best.

  • disco_bob on November 29, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    "Prior slump continues". Almost as good as 'Bird flies home'

  • CM1000 on November 29, 2013, 13:29 GMT

    Based on this scorecard I don't imagine England will still be complaining about the lack of quality of the bowling attacks Australia are giving them in tour matches - imagine what may have happened if Australia's "next-in-line" quicks had played in Alice? A few months ago in England, Australia were only given two very average county bowling attacks to face before the 1st Test, which is as it has been for years. No problem with that, warm-up matches have generally been just about warming up, spending time in the middle, getting used to foreign conditions. By contrast, Australia at home used to try to destroy a touring side's confidence before the Test matches started, by unleashing top-line quicks and beating the tourists in the warm-ups, but that was when Australia were by far the best in the world. Now that times have changed, I don't think anyone should be surprised that Australia hold back their best bowlers in the warm-up matches, just like England do when they are at home.

  • on November 29, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Jake Doran looks like a better keeper than Matt Wade... looking forward to seeing him bat.

  • Stevros3 on November 29, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx yeah I knew that was what they were trying to do, but given it's a tour game which unlike the last one no bad weather forecast, means that if batsmen get runs they can retire easily to give others a turn in the middle. given the unsettled nature of the batting line up with Trott's departure I think a lot can be gained from just stabalising the order somewhat (I know it's nowhere near a representative 11) rather than just throwing those you think need to bat most in as soon as possible. It led to what seems externally a unsure side that doesn't know what the plan is. Ok the managment may have a plan in case, but seeing this shambles will only give the Aussie players further encouragment and confidence.

  • JG2704 on November 29, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    Obviously a bad scorecard but I'm not sure what this tells us?

    Are they even considering dropping KP?

    It would be a bold move but let's face it , if a fresher came into the side and played/got out the way KP did in the 1st test we'd all be calling for their heads straight away. Irresponsible shots esp in the 2nd inns. If KP isn't playing then is it an injury concern? I mean you rest players who have had a big workload to deal with. I think KP was rested in one of the warm up games and when he has played has hardly played what anyone may call a long/attritional inns. Fair enough resting our bowlers as (due to our batsmen's failures) they had little rest in the last game but surely every one of our batsmen needs time out in the middle and if you're going to rest anyone I'd say Bell or Cook. Jono Lane's team looks about right to me if going 6/1/4 . I like 5/1/5 but right now I don't think Stokes will contribute enough with bat or ball. I'd have had Woakes out there

  • PFEL on November 29, 2013, 11:54 GMT

    This is a shocking scorecard, especially considering the nature of the hosts bowling attack which consists largely of 3rd choice state players! If England can't make runs against them what hope do they ever have against the Australian side?

  • LaneyMEngland on November 29, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    What an awful mess England are looking now. Bell surely has to be given responsibility to bat at 3, ridiculous sending him in at 6 here, Root down the order at 5 is a no-brainer now for me, with Bairstow at 6. Prior is all at sea and those first class figures this year are dire, be ruthless and drop him. Including Stokes at 7 will lighten the load for Bresnan if we can get him on the field. Give Bairstow the gloves, giving the following XI. Cook, Carberry, Bell, Pietersen, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson.

  • Nutcutlet on November 29, 2013, 11:40 GMT

    It must be very difficult for the England touring party to carry on in a calm & settled state after the departure of Jon Trott. Not only is there now a state of flux in the batting composition/order for next Wednesday, but it's very clear that some players are underperforming significantly. Curiously, I am never too concerned when I hear of a batsman scoring 0; it happens to the very best, but I am concerned when a batsman gets in & having got set, gets out. Prior 27 balls for 19 against a less than formidable attack. That must keep the alarm bells ringing. Of course he'll play at Adelaide & the selectors are loathe to drop him. He should be an auto-pick, but that protected status must now be under review. Prior is important in other ways. He's a socially-aware team member; he's also Cook's v/c. Much is asked of him indeed. He's a battler, has ticker, will be desperate to answer his critics, but the runs aren't there. England needs to make sure he's A ok - still waving, not drowning.

  • jmcilhinney on November 29, 2013, 11:28 GMT

    Dear oh dear. This is obviously not the team that will play in Adelaide but this performance certainly doesn't inspire confidence in a batting comeback there. The fact that England declared with Bairstow still at the crease and on only 31 when Ballance came in at #3 suggests to me that Ballance is the front-runner to come in at #6 in Adelaide. The batting order was a bit all over the place here but the fact that Bell batted so low is interesting. Does it mean that he won't be moving up to #3 or that he was considered to be less in need of time at the crease than the others? The fact that Rankin and Finn both played suggests that they're in with a shot too. I wonder whether Finn might be a good idea for Adelaide. Even if he's a bit expensive, England need 20 wickets to win and Finn's a wicket taker. Even a draw at Adelaide leaves England in a tricky spot so they really need to go for the win.

  • keithmillersmesserschmitt on November 29, 2013, 11:25 GMT

    I enjoy reading George's articles but he's clearly wrong that England's problem in Brisbane was only their batsmen. Other than Broad the bowlers lacked penetration, as well. It's just that the batsmen did *so* badly that the bowlers looked good by comparison. England probably do need an extra bowler for Adelaide. Long innings are very likely, and only four frontline bowlers with Swann and Tremlett out of form is a recipe for disaster. I hope England do better in Adelaide, but, as an Australian supporter, I want a repeat of Adelaide 2006, rather than Adelaide 2010. :-)

  • rickyvoncanterbury on November 29, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    @FFL, RednWhite army and Hammond It looks like Australia are not the only ones that are........ BOG AVERAGE WITH NO DEPTH. It looks like Strauss, Collingwood, and Trott are really, really hard to replace.

  • RoBoBobster on November 29, 2013, 11:11 GMT

    Prior aat 3, Bairstow at 7, share the keeping, give Prior a change of mindset but with a similar type of bowling, i.e 2nd new ball, he can't do worse, and the middle order is used to the problems anyway

  • xtrafalgarx on November 29, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    @Stevros3: They were trying to give Root, Ballance, Prior, Stokes time in the middle, pretty obvious, no point in batting Bell who looks pretty good though he has had nothing to show for it this tour except the hundred against a substandard attack..

  • on November 29, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    Cook, Carberry, Root, KP, Bell, Ballance, Bairstow, Bresnan, Broad, Swan, Jimmy.

    This is a great opportunity to shake things up other than replacing the departed Trott. Bairstow can't score less than Prior is contributing currently, and his keeping isn't bad. Give him another go.

  • valvolux on November 29, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Not sure if its back to the good old days of every touring team getting spanked by any XI australia could get convince to play. They are obviously this time around trying to starve them of playing any sort of quality, however the quality of the english has to be questioned against these newbies. If rumours are true and Harris is to be rested in adelaide, they shouldve played some of the replacement candidates at least. Its unaustralian to not try and field the best team in every game. Remember in 06/07? The poms got to play at 3 of the test grounds before the series...and even faced a NSW team consisting of McGrath, Clark and Lee - the full test attack. Maybe boof is onto something

  • jackiethepen on November 29, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    I agree with Stevros3 this batting line up is a cockup by Flower and the management. I assume he discusses these things with others. Another shambles which frankly is draining the confidence of the team. Bell has been shafted batting him down at 6. Flower doesn't seem to have any answer except be a hard man and offer head-to-head competition. He hasn't an ounce of psychology - he left that to Strauss. Bell should have been backed at 3. He rescued England in the summer and he's rewarded by being overlooked - for Root who was moved down the order for his own protection! That's how to manage people!! Force Root back to open. Flower creates too much pressure on players and makes poor judgements which is costing us. Nothing settled and Adelaide calls! Prior is struggling in a side which has already lost Trott to stress.

  • Meety on November 29, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Something drastic needs to happen within Team England - as this tour is sinking. Most of the CXI are not regular FC players. Sunno what the pitch is like & I suppose you could add 50 to 60 runs if the outfield was slow, but still.

  • liz1558 on November 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug - couldn't agree more! It looks like the manager needs changing; the game is up for Flower's men. In hindsight, he ought to have stepped down at the end of the summer rather than hanging on; although it still may not have saved England. His tactics - steady accumulation, grinding the opposition down, line and length consistency reached a peak in 2011, but have faltered ever since, most spectacularly against SA at the Oval- 637/2. In place of steady accumulation we have strokeless inertia and the bowling attack looks distinctly medium. England are better than this, but it needs someone with a new game plan at the top. Someone who can get more out of Finn for a start. By the end of what looks like being a very long and painful series it could be the end for Anderson, Swann, KP, Trott, Tremlett and even Prior.

  • yorkshire-86 on November 29, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Cook root bell KP Ballance stokes prior Bresnan broad Swann Anderson. Bat down to 10, plenty of bowling options, and disposes of the woeful Carberry, having him in the team is like playing with ten, anything other than a duck is a good score for him!

  • on November 29, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Bresnan is a bowler who commands respect from the Australian batsmen (esp. Shane Watson), and if he's bowling well then he won't become a target like Chris Tremlett was at the Gabba. It may have been the batsmen who flopped in Brisbane, but it is tempting to think that Bresnan might have posed more of a threat to the Haddin/Johnson partnership. His batting would also be useful to England, who really feel a batsman short when Swann comes in at 9.

  • on November 29, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    @disco_bob This was hardly a 3rd string side! Taking nothing away from the players, but I'm not sure too many of the side even had 1st class experience.

  • Stevros3 on November 29, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    What are England doing with their order in this match?

    Root back opening, Ballance 3, Prior 4, Stokes 5, Bell 6, Bairstow 7

    Not one of them likely to play those positions in the test match unless Bairstow replaces Prior. If Root is to play number 3 in the next test he need's to bat there even if you want to rest Cook. Carberry should have opened with Bell if you want him at 3 (though I still think Bell is the right choice) Ballance if he comes in is likely to be batting at 6 so why aren't the people fighting over the lower order (Ballance, Stokes & Bairstow) batting there? Why when Prior is woefully out of orm do they shove him in a critical batting position of 4. It seems like the managment wanted a collapse. If this is the team they wanted to play for the warm up game order should have been.

    1.Carberry 2.Root/Bell 3.Root/Bell 4.Ballance 5.Bairstow 6.Stokes 7.Prior

  • dunger.bob on November 29, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    I've never been to Alice, mores the pity. I wonder what the wickets like there. Going on this performance, it might be a bit tricky.

    If the Aussies bat well tomorrow it's not going to do England's self esteem much good, but it is only a hit out. Sometimes it's hard to rise to the small occasion. Englands team for Adelaide may already be decided and known amongst the players so there mightn't be as much to play for as we think.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how young Jake Doran goes tomorrow. He's listed at 5 or 6 so I hope he gets a bat !

  • xtrafalgarx on November 29, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    What's wrong with England? It's pretty hard not to say that they are going downhill, and very quickly at that.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 29, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    Not ideal for England but good for Australia. I'm not sure England will make a run even on a flat track in Adelaide they are so out of sorts. I hope they make a game of it but it's hard to see how they can improve by the next test.

  • disco_bob on November 29, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    This is like the old days, a sound thrashing in Brisbane, then a roughing up by the Chairman's XI. This match is not going to do anything for their confidence especially as Australia only put up a 3rd string side.

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  • disco_bob on November 29, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    This is like the old days, a sound thrashing in Brisbane, then a roughing up by the Chairman's XI. This match is not going to do anything for their confidence especially as Australia only put up a 3rd string side.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on November 29, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    Not ideal for England but good for Australia. I'm not sure England will make a run even on a flat track in Adelaide they are so out of sorts. I hope they make a game of it but it's hard to see how they can improve by the next test.

  • xtrafalgarx on November 29, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    What's wrong with England? It's pretty hard not to say that they are going downhill, and very quickly at that.

  • dunger.bob on November 29, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    I've never been to Alice, mores the pity. I wonder what the wickets like there. Going on this performance, it might be a bit tricky.

    If the Aussies bat well tomorrow it's not going to do England's self esteem much good, but it is only a hit out. Sometimes it's hard to rise to the small occasion. Englands team for Adelaide may already be decided and known amongst the players so there mightn't be as much to play for as we think.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how young Jake Doran goes tomorrow. He's listed at 5 or 6 so I hope he gets a bat !

  • Stevros3 on November 29, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    What are England doing with their order in this match?

    Root back opening, Ballance 3, Prior 4, Stokes 5, Bell 6, Bairstow 7

    Not one of them likely to play those positions in the test match unless Bairstow replaces Prior. If Root is to play number 3 in the next test he need's to bat there even if you want to rest Cook. Carberry should have opened with Bell if you want him at 3 (though I still think Bell is the right choice) Ballance if he comes in is likely to be batting at 6 so why aren't the people fighting over the lower order (Ballance, Stokes & Bairstow) batting there? Why when Prior is woefully out of orm do they shove him in a critical batting position of 4. It seems like the managment wanted a collapse. If this is the team they wanted to play for the warm up game order should have been.

    1.Carberry 2.Root/Bell 3.Root/Bell 4.Ballance 5.Bairstow 6.Stokes 7.Prior

  • on November 29, 2013, 10:11 GMT

    @disco_bob This was hardly a 3rd string side! Taking nothing away from the players, but I'm not sure too many of the side even had 1st class experience.

  • on November 29, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    Bresnan is a bowler who commands respect from the Australian batsmen (esp. Shane Watson), and if he's bowling well then he won't become a target like Chris Tremlett was at the Gabba. It may have been the batsmen who flopped in Brisbane, but it is tempting to think that Bresnan might have posed more of a threat to the Haddin/Johnson partnership. His batting would also be useful to England, who really feel a batsman short when Swann comes in at 9.

  • yorkshire-86 on November 29, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Cook root bell KP Ballance stokes prior Bresnan broad Swann Anderson. Bat down to 10, plenty of bowling options, and disposes of the woeful Carberry, having him in the team is like playing with ten, anything other than a duck is a good score for him!

  • liz1558 on November 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug - couldn't agree more! It looks like the manager needs changing; the game is up for Flower's men. In hindsight, he ought to have stepped down at the end of the summer rather than hanging on; although it still may not have saved England. His tactics - steady accumulation, grinding the opposition down, line and length consistency reached a peak in 2011, but have faltered ever since, most spectacularly against SA at the Oval- 637/2. In place of steady accumulation we have strokeless inertia and the bowling attack looks distinctly medium. England are better than this, but it needs someone with a new game plan at the top. Someone who can get more out of Finn for a start. By the end of what looks like being a very long and painful series it could be the end for Anderson, Swann, KP, Trott, Tremlett and even Prior.

  • Meety on November 29, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Something drastic needs to happen within Team England - as this tour is sinking. Most of the CXI are not regular FC players. Sunno what the pitch is like & I suppose you could add 50 to 60 runs if the outfield was slow, but still.