England eased their way to a seven wicket victory on Saturday in the final match before the Ashes. It was exactly the result they required to send them to Brisbane for the start of the Ashes with a spring in their step, if not quite a song in their heart.
Not all their work against the invitation XI cobbled together by Cricket Australia was impeccable but over four days and four innings they were much too powerful and imposing for their opponents.
The CA team took their overnight 153 for 4 to 261 all out today, leaving the tourists with 148 to win. It was done more or less in regulation order, only an impending thunderstorm over Sydney putting it at risk. Just before the skies broke, Ian Bell launched a six over extra cover to bring the scores level and then late dabbed a four. He finished on 33no with Jonathan Trott unbeaten on 38.
In the opposition second innings, Steve Finn and Boyd Rankin each finished with three wickets without making anything like a persuasive case for selection for the First Test which begins at the Gabba on Thursday. Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann both looked to have found their touch by the end of the innings, as if they had done just enough bowling to be ready for a gruelling Test campaign.
Broad took 2-32 in 16 overs, an object lesson for his fast bowling colleagues, and Swann’s 2-69 from 27 was sufficient to make him match honed.
The success of England’s pursuit was never in doubt and although they found themselves in something of a minor pickle against the 20-year-old leg spinner James Muirhead the target was always within reach. After Alastair Cook was deceived by a ball turning him which he tried to cut, Michael Carberry completed a handsome fifty.
Carberry has yet to fail in any match in tour with scores 78 in Perth, 153no in Hobart and 5 and 50 in Sydney. He fell to Muuirhead, miscuing a pull.
Although Kevin Pietersen was bowled aiming an errant drive that mattered not a jot in the context of the Test. The job was finished by Trott and Bell with 16.2 overs in hand. It was a proper work out in a decent warm-up.