England struggle against CA XI youth
PERTH – It was another tough day for England cricket on Saturday. While an England XI captained by Test allrounder Moeen Ali were outplayed by a Cricket Australia XI at Perth’s Richardson Park, news of more disciplinary issues surfaced in the form of Ben Duckett and a boozy night out in the Western Australian capital.
Duckett, who is in Australia as part of the England Lions squad, was set to play in the two-day tour match this weekend but an alcohol-related incident on Thursday night saw the 23-year-old suspended for the fixture. England found stiff opposition in the CA XI, who at stumps on day one had moved to 1-57, 257 runs behind England XI’s 9-314 declared.
Not a lot can be achieved in a two-day match other than a fine tune for those players expected to play in next week’s third Test at the WACA Ground or a final chance for the Test aspirants pressing their claims for a Magellan Ashes berth. Unfortunately for England, none of the above was achieved.
CA XI skipper Travis Dean won the toss and sent the visitors in as looming thunderstorms approached. A wicket in the eighth over brought England’s reserve Test batsman Gary Ballance to the crease but a dozen balls later he was back in the pavilion, caught in the gully driving Jackson Koop.
With England’s Test top seven finding the going tough against an Australia attack firing on all cylinders, a big score from Ballance would have given the England selectors something to think about should there be another batting hiccup at the WACA. It was not to be. The Yorkshireman’s exit brought Moeen to the crease, the Test allrounder who has batted four times in the Ashes and been dismissed on each occasion by nemesis Nathan Lyon.
Moeen looked as graceful as ever as entered lunch on 23 but in the second over after the long break he was out feathering an edge to wicketkeeper Josh Phillipe from the bowling of Tasmania’s Gabe Bell. Still recovering from a split finger he suffered in the first Test at the Gabba, Moeen won’t bowl in this match. England XI’s innings was built around Keaton Jennings’ 80 and a rapid unbeaten 77 from Tom Curran, who’s 90-ball knock included nine fours and a six.
Rain washed away time and overs in the first two sessions to leave a mammoth final session of nearly three hours to end the day. On the stroke of 4.30 and the loss of the ninth wicket, Moeen declared to give his side 18 overs at the youngsters. Mark Wood, the Durham quick whose name has been put forward as a possible solution to England’s pace bowling ‘sameness’ problem, bowled with great speed but without success. One short ball zipped past the head of a CA XI opener but it was just one delivery amongst the 36 he sent down as the sun set and shadows stretched across the pristine outfield. Fast bowler Jake Ball, who played in Brisbane before the selection axe fell, was the pick of the England XI attack with figures of 0-20 from seven overs. Curran picked up the only wicket – Josh Phillipe lbw for 18 – before leg-spinner Mason Crane found bounce and spin as he closed out play with CA XI captain Travis Dean unbeaten on 29 and No.3 Jake Doran 11no.
ENGLAND: 314-9 declared (K. Jennings 80, T. Curran 77 not out; M. Wright 2-19
CA XI: 62-1 (T. Dean 29 not out; T. Curran 1-14).