PERTH, Australia: England’s bowlers struggled in an underwhelming start to their Ashes tour in the opening match against a Western Australia Cricket Association Chairman’s XI in Perth on Thursday.
The home side, effectively a second-string outfit comprising fringe first-class players with the main state team involved in a domestic Sheffield Shield game, won the toss and chose to bat in the three-day match, reaching 369 for four off 90 overs at the close against a tepid English pace attack.
The tour opener was slated as a bowl-off for England’s pacemen, with tall quicks Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn all hoping to push their case for a spot in the first Test team against Australia, starting at the Gabba on November 21.
However, none of the trio impressed with the ball, rarely causing the Chairman’s XI batsmen any discomfort for most of the day.
Rankin, whose first spell featured a succession of wayward full tosses, was the only one of the three to claim a wicket, removing centurion Chris Lynn late in the day.
Tremlett (0-71) and Finn (0-87), who took eight and five wickets respectively at the same venue in England’s most recent Test in Perth in 2010, both finished wicketless.
Veteran seamer James Anderson was clearly the best of the frontline bowlers with 1-31 off 16 overs, while part-timers Ben Stokes and Joe Root each picked up a wicket.
To make matters worse for the English, they put down two catches, while a third chance didn’t even go to hand when Stokes lost the ball in the sun later in the day.
Queensland’s Lynn, who was invited to play for the Chairman’s side, was dropped by Tremlett at mid-on on 66 and went on to make 104, while Marsh (58) was put down by Root at first slip when he was on just six.
Anderson was the only English quick to pick up a wicket in the day’s first two sessions, when he had opener Marcus Harris caught in gully by Ian Bell for 69, after fending off a rising delivery.
That ended a 115-run opening stand, with all of the WA batsmen dismissed making half-centuries.
England were missing several key players for the opening match, including captain Alastair Cook, who has a sore back, and Kevin Pietersen, who was a late arrival in Australia. Fast bowler Stuart Broad and off-spinner Graeme Swann were rested.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior is leading the England team in Cook’s absence.