By George Marrable

  • England took on a Cricket Australia XI in their final warm up for the Ashes
  • 4 day tour match ended in a draw
  • Matt Short and Jason Sangha both made centuries to secure draw for Cricket Australia XI
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – England’s preparations for the Ashes are nearly complete as they drew their final match before the first test of the series. Despite ending in a stalemate, there was plenty of talking points in the match.

 

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Woakes could turn the series for England

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Chris Woakes put in a great performance once again for England, showing the selectors what they have been missing whilst he was injured. He picked up 6 wickets in the first innings, and added a useful 36 runs as England dominated the first innings with bat and ball.

The Warwickshire all-rounder’s purple patch of form comes at an excellent time for England, who are still without Ben Stokes. The vacant all-rounder spot was a big hole in England’s side, but Woakes will be hoping he can fill the gap Stokes has left.

He has already shown, in this tour and previously, that he is more than capable with the ball – perhaps more so than Stokes – but there are still doubts about whether he can bat at No. 6 against Australia. If he can, he may well turn the series in England’s favour.

 

Moeen needs time to adjust

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Moeen Ali finally made his return to the side this week, featuring in his first match since England flew out to Australia. Ali’s runs and wickets have both been looked at as key in England’s attempts to beat Australia down under.

However, the lack of time on the pitch showed to begin with as he made just five with the bat, and wicketless in England’s first bowling innings. He more than redeemed himself in the second innings, taking two wickets and bowling very tightly, restricting the Australian batsman to very few runs. He showed that, despite the emergence of Mason Crane, Ali is firmly the number one spinner for the series.

 

Lower order still a worry for England

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In their one innings, England made a monumental score of 515 all out, including centuries from in-form Mark Stoneman, as well as Dawid Malan. However, a lower order collapse of 5-38 hampered that score slightly.

It is a recurring theme that England have been dealing with for a long time now, and something Australia will clearly be looking to exploit. Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Craig Overton all failed to make a substantial score, and, if they don’t find their form, could put the team under some serious pressure.

England will take solace in the fact that Bairstow and Ali have the experience needed to perform against Australia, with both of them viewed as crucial players coming into the series.

The first Test between Australia and England starts on 23 November.

 

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