By George Marrable
- England played their first warm-up match of the tour against a Western Australia XI
- Two day match ended in a draw
- Jimmy Anderson took 4 wickets for the tourists, whilst both Vince and Stoneman passed 80.
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – The warm-up to the Ashes began this weekend in Australia, as England played a Western Australia XI at the WACA. Whilst the two-day match ended in a draw, there was plenty of talking points for England.
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James Anderson still key in Australian conditions
Despite questions constantly being asked about James Anderson’s ability to bowl in non-English conditions, he showed just what he could do at the WACA. Despite bowling on a hard, flat wicket, Anderson came away with 4-27.
Whilst he will always be England’s talisman bowler, he will not get his usual swing down under, and will have to rely on his consistent line and length to get wickets. The match shows just how crucial he will be throughout this series with Australia, despite having an inferior average in Australia compared to in England.
England’s batting impresses without Cook and Root
Whilst Alistair Cook featured in the match, he was dismissed for a second ball duck, meaning James Vince was thrown into the deep end on his return to the side. Vince thrived under the pressure, and went on to score an excellent 82 from 172 balls.
Cook’s opening partner, Mark Stoneman, repaid the selectors faith, making 85 from 144. He was one of many batsmen in the side to perform well. Unusually, along with Cook, Joe Root was one to not perform, making just 9.
Both Dawid Malan and Gary Ballance, who are both vying for a place in the starting XI, both passed 50 before retiring. Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes finished not-out on 36* and 25* respectively, showing that England will not be relying on their two talismans in this series.
Spots in England’s bowling attack are still up for grabs
Despite Anderson’s stellar performance with the ball, none of the other bowlers confirmed their place for the first test. Although Stuart Broad struggled, he will almost certainly appear in the first test against Australia.
Jake Ball, who returned to the squad for this tour, bowled well but had little to show for it, taking 1-31 and getting some good pace out of the WACA pitch. Woakes also struggled, but will likely take the all-rounder slot without Ben Stokes in the squad.
Mason Crane took 2-74 in his first England match, but was expensive, whilst Craig Overton also had the same problem. Although he took 2 wickets, Overton went for 70 runs from 13 overs, and although he bowled with good pace, lacked the consistency of Jake Ball.
Whilst it wasn’t easy for any of the bowlers, it looks as though Ball has the upper-hand currently in the battle for the third specialist bowler spot
England continue their preparation for the first test match as they take on a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide on 8 November.
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