England Lions v Australians, Tour Match, 2nd day August 17, 2013

Hughes shades low quality face off with Khawaja


Australians 227 for 6 (Watson 45, Stokes 2-27) drew with England Lions 269 for 7 dec (Ballance 104)

On the eve of this match, Australia's coach Darren Lehmann was asked whether any restrictions would be placed on how long a batsman could play, given the two-day contest was limited to 100 overs per side. "I don't think we're at that stage where we can do that," Lehmann said. "If someone can bat 100 overs, they bat 100 overs." It turns out even surviving for 100 balls was too tall an order for any of the Australians.

Matthew Wade and James Faulkner might have got there, well established as they were when bad light ended play just after 5pm, consigning the one-innings match to a draw with Australia on 227 for 6 in their chase of 270. But the very fact that only one of Australia's top six - Phillip Hughes - lasted longer at the crease than the No.7 and 8 batsmen suggested the day had been a bust for the Australians, who needed to gain some batting confidence.

When play was abandoned, Wade was on 38 from 69 deliveries and Faulkner had 29 from 75 balls, but it was the efforts of Hughes and Usman Khawaja that were under greater scrutiny given the likely battle for the No.3 spot at The Oval. Neither man made the big score he wanted but Hughes won on crease occupation against a solid all-round England Lions attack, albeit on a pitch that didn't offer much in the way of sideways movement.

It was telling that Khawaja, the incumbent first-drop in the Test team, was demoted to No.6. His only scoring stroke was a crisp on-drive off his pads for four but he was caught behind when he prodded outside off and edged Ben Stokes for 4. By comparison, Hughes looked uncomfortable at times, including when he fell over while playing a hook off James Harris and when he copped a few shortish deliveries on the body, but at least he found a way to survive.

Hughes played some classy strokes as well, a couple of cover-drives in particular, before playing back when Keith Barker dropped the ball short of a length and playing on for 30 from 92 deliveries. It was a start wasted, but Hughes was not alone in that regard. Shane Watson and David Warner both struck the ball well but failed to reach half-centuries, and Ed Cowan and Steven Smith made starts but no more. None showed the selectors what they wanted to see.

Smith looked in terrific touch when using his feet against the spin of Simon Kerrigan, but less so against pace and he was yorked by Stokes on 18. Watson had also hinted at fine form and crunched three boundaries from one Kerrigan over, forcing him down the ground with cross-batted swipes and a loft over mid-off, and he also slog-swept him for a cleanly-struck six. But on 45, Watson picked out fine leg with a hook off Harris and it was another case of looking good but getting out.

Warner had also played some encouraging drives before he came down the pitch and was stumped for 35 when Kerrigan squirted the ball wider. His opening partner, Cowan, was more circumspect and scored his only boundary with a cut through point when Kerrigan dropped short and his innings ended on 17 when he edged behind off Liam Plunkett, who came around the wicket and got a delivery to straighten down the line.

Stokes was the most impressive of the England Lions bowlers, collecting 2 for 27 and having a catch put down that should have been his third - Wade was on 3 when his cut to gully was spilled by Plunkett. Stokes bowled with sharp pace and was always at the batsmen, although by the end of the day Wade and Faulkner were looking comfortable during their unbeaten 67-run stand.

Earlier, England Lions had declared on their overnight score of 269 for 7 after morning drizzle reduced the first session to 75 minutes. Bad light prevented a result but an Australian win would have done little to hide their ongoing batting issues ahead of The Oval Test.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    I find it hugely amusing that Oz make 2 or 3 changes per Test match!! It makes the team look a total shambles. And it is a total shambles. Reminds me of England in the 90s!!

  • Shwetank on August 19, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    @duralsumo: I think you're being a little harsh on the itinerary - 5 test matches in themselves take a long time, and on top of that you're suggesting a 4-day match between each one! That's close to 40 days days of cricket not even accounting for the one dayers! Players are breaking down as it is, and the tour itself can't go on forever! The current schedule is sufficient - if anything the mid-series game could be longer than 2 days. The fact is Australia just haven't performed, pure and simple. Each tour game has contained similar trends to the four tests already played - Aussie batsmen have got starts but not made big scores, and lapses in the field have resulted in scoreboard punishment by England batsmen.

  • Dummy4 on August 19, 2013, 2:10 GMT

    The Aussie side is not quite as bad as many are saying but they have not performed to their potential and made some very strange selections in the bowling department particularly. IMO their best team by a country mile is:

    Rogers, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Starc and Lyon.

    I predict that if that team takes the field at the Oval it won't lose.

  • John on August 18, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    This game was a waste of time as a two day at this level does not assist anyone.Cricket Australia must share some of the blame by agreeing to the itinerary that has been given for this tour. Look at how England prepared for the last Ashes and the next Ashes tour of Australia. Three four day matches and one between the second and third test. I would take it further a four day match between each test match. If players need to be rested use the same formula that was adopted between Lords and Old Trafford. Call me old school however this would allow fringe players game time and out of form players an opportunity to regain form. I recognise there are outside forces these days however if we are going to be successful lets adopt a professional aproach.

  • stuart on August 18, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Stokes is getting more impressive each time I see him.Suprised he was not blooded for the Oval test but have a feeling we will see more of him in future times.

  • Samuel on August 18, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Interesting to read the comments from a lot of frustrated Aussie fans. Might not help much but just know that we English know your pain! For mine, I don't see why Warner and Cowan were ever split up; they seemed a decent partnership, Cowan was one of the better performers in India, and Warner looks a different player against spin if he's got his eye in against the seamers first (and if he has someone he can trust to hold up an end batting with him). He times the ball unusually sweetly too, for someone not associated with elegance. My batting line-up would be: Cowan, Warner, Rogers (played a lot of his domestic cricket at 3 I believe), Clarke, Smith, Watson, Haddin. In an ideal world one of Hughes or Khawaja would learn their trade down at 6, but the fact that both of them are beaten before they even start against spin means you can't take the risk of them coming in against it too often. Robson would be a bonus, but I genuinely think he'll be in Oz in an England shirt this winter.

  • kieran on August 18, 2013, 11:29 GMT

    @Hyclass, your comments continue to highlight the inadequacies of our national system. The downfall (& loss) of Hughes has been one of the saddest sporting stories I've witnessed. How the power structure of CA has managed to escape censure I will never know. While Australia are comfortably the third best test side in world cricket and I fail to give in to the doom & gloom predictions, its hard to swallow the years of inadequacy when so many better players were ignored or discarded. Not only is our current performance embarrassing, by not putting our best foot forward it is a disservice to competitive sport.

  • Jeff on August 18, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Why on earth would Clarke bat 3? He is a number 5 really forced up to 4 by lack of class. Look some of the best batsmen over the last 10 years. Chanderpaul bats 5. Tendulkar 4. Pietersen is another 5 forced up to 4 (and he hasnt beenthe same batsmen since moving to 4). Kallis bats 5. Jayawardene 4. Bell 5. Hussey 5. Samaraweera 5. Yousuf 5. In fact the only three players in the top 25 runscorers who bat number three are Ponting, Amla and Sangakaara. (For the record - the other players are openers. Smith, Cook, Sehway, Strauss, Hussey bieng the top ones)

  • Brenton on August 18, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    Jono Makin, Ideally I too would like to see Hughes open. He is tailor made for that position but Australia is short of a number 3 and Hughes is good enough to fill it. Warner and Hughes opened for NSW several times. I remember watching Warner in awe of Hughes when he smashed Tassie for 138 and 95 (only 5 runs short of a century in each innings) in a shield final in Hobart a couple of years ago.

    I think Rogers has to stay opening but maybe Warner at 3? I agree about having young players at 5-6. That was the first mistake the selectors made a few years ago when shuffling new bats straight into number 3 with Hussey down at 6. They should have moved Hussey to 3 (he used to open and bat 4) and gently allow young players to find their feet lower down the order. This is the way it's always been done. Ponting, Clarke, Boon, Chappell brothers, M.Waugh, Martyn etc etc all began down around 6, none of them were moved up the order until they were ready.

  • Dummy4 on August 18, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    Khawaja and Hughes are really waste. If Aussies really want to win, then should make an urgent replacement in No:3. They can give a chance to some responsible players like Adam Voges or George Bailey.

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