HOBART - Wicketkeeper Matt Prior sent an injury scare through the England camp as the tourists drew their rain-marred match against Australia A in Hobart on Saturday. Prior felt tightness in his calf when attempting a quick single while batting on the final day of the Bellerive match, and may require a scan. Joe Root kept wicket for England as Prior stayed off the field during Australia A's first innings, and his fitness will be a concern for the tourists heading into their final pre-Ashes tour match against an Invitational XI starting on Wednesday in Sydney.

The opening Ashes Test takes place at Brisbane's Gabba ground on November 21. The Hobart weather finally made play possible on Saturday with all the leading batsmen getting some action and the England's bowlers sending down a combined 31 overs in Australia A's innings. At the close, Australia A were 119 for three with Shaun Marsh 27 not out and Callum Ferguson on 15 in reply to England's 430 for seven declared off 128 overs.

England lost two playing days in the match when rain washed out play on days two and three of the four-day game. Australian Test candidate Alex Doolan made a fluent start to his final bid for a debut in Brisbane, but he failed to put forward an overwhelming case after he was bowled by James Anderson for 31. Another batsman in contention, Marsh, also did nothing wrong with his limited opportunity.

Anderson (2-20) looked sharp with the new ball and Root (58 not out) made a good fist of his return to the middle-order, but many of England's batsmen were dismissed cheaply. Star batsman Kevin Pietersen (8) was one of several England stars who failed to find form at Bellerive, with Jonathan Trott (4), Gary Ballance (4) and Prior (26) also struggling. Pietersen was trapped lbw by Trent Copeland with one that stayed low, and lost an opportunity for a long batting stint after missing the opening tour game in Perth. Trott and Ballance were claimed by paceman Ben Cutting (2-75).

Trott was caught behind for four. Ballance did not help his Test hopes with another cheap score following up his first-ball duck in Perth, with four before he was lbw to Cutting. Prior made 26 before he fell lbw to spinner Jon Holland, who also got the wicket of Stuart Broad for eight. Root enhanced his claims of batting lower down the order in the Ashes series opener, after opener Michael Carberry's century in this match with a handy half-century which included six fours. England captain Alastair Cook (154) and his new opening partner Carberry (153) retired out when play resumed to give others a bat.



(318-0 RESUMING):

Alastair Cook retired out    154

Michael Carberry retired out    153

Jonathan Trott c Paine b Cutting    4

Kevin Pietersen lbw b Copeland    8

Joe Root not out    58

Gary Ballance lbw b Cutting    4

Matt Prior lbw b Holland    26

Stuart Broad c Khawaja b Holland    8

EXTRAS: (b8, lb4, w1, nb2)    15

TOTAL: (7 wkts decl; 128 overs)    430

FOW: 1-318, 2-318, 3-329, 4-345, 5-363, 6-414, 7-430

BOWLING: Cutting 30-7-75-2, Copeland 33-7-99-1, Henriques 12-2-44-0, Holland 24-1-105-2, Maxwell 27-3-89-0, Khawaja 2-0-6-0.


Alex Doolan b Anderson    31

Michael Klinger lbw b Swann    29

Usman Khawaja c Root b Anderson    3

Shaun Marsh not out    27

Callum Ferguson not out    15

EXTRAS: (lb2, w5, nb7)    14

TOTAL: (3 wickets; 31 overs)    119

FOW: 1-40, 2-48, 3-80

BOWLING: Anderson 7-2-20-2, Broad 10-1-47-0, Tremlett 8-2-23-0 (1nb), Swann 6-0-27-1

TOSS: England

UMPIRES: Simon Fry (AUS), Paul Wilson (AUS)

TV UMPIRE: Geoff Joshua (AUS)

MATCH REFEREE: Bob Stratford (AUS)