England finalise preparations with easy win over Austrlia A

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The Independent Online

England wrapped up their Ashes preparations with a convincing 10-wicket victory over Australia A at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart this morning.

Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar led the final-day victory charge with three wickets apiece as the home side were bowled out, despite a stubborn century from skipper Cameron White, having established a lead of only eight runs.

Skipper Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook then knocked off the simple task in nine balls immediately after the tea break to secure a second win in three warm-up games ahead of next week's first Test at the 'Gabba.

It meant the culmination of an almost ideal preparation period for the tourists, after they had elected to send their first-choice bowling attack to Brisbane on the opening day of this game in order to acclimatise to conditions in Queensland.

With the focus therefore on their batsmen in Hobart, Ian Bell's near perfect 192 led another solid hit out with Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott all enjoying significant time in the middle.

Kevin Pietersen provided the only negative after his problems against left-arm orthodox spin apparently resurfaced when he was bowled by young spinner Steve O'Keefe on the second day.

And the Australia selectors seemingly responded to that today by selecting one such bowler, Xavier Doherty, in their 13-man squad for the first Test at the expense of incumbent Nathan Hauritz.

But England team manager Andy Flower could justifiably feel content with his batsmen's preparations, as well as the depth of his attack after the second-stringers bowled the tourists to victory today.

Tim Bresnan claimed the three wickets to fall last night and Tremlett repeated the feat in the second hour this morning, when he also put himself on a hat-trick.

Phil Hughes and White had kept England out with few apparent problems in the first hour of a sunny day, on a pitch which has provided a fair balance between bat and ball.

The fourth-wicket pair had just brought up a century stand when Tremlett struck for the first time, Hughes (81) edging an attempted cut high to the right of first slip - where Strauss took a fine catch.

Hughes had hit 11 fours, mainly through his favoured off-side, from 183 balls and shown every indication that he was intent on keeping England out in the field all day.

The home side's hopes of a draw faded further after Tremlett took his two in two - Tim Paine perhaps a little unfortunate to go lbw to a delivery that appeared to hit him fairly high and Steve Smith then waving one through first ball only to see it clatter straight into his off-stump.

White and O'Keefe then built a stubborn 78-run stand either side of the lunch break to move Australia A to within touching distance of making England bat again.

White, who was not even named in Australia's preliminary 17-man Ashes squad earlier week, reached his century, which included 12 fours, midway through the afternoon session from 158 balls.

But Panesar then rattled off three quick wickets - his first of the match - to deservedly reward his efforts.

First he induced a miscued drive from O'Keefe that Pietersen easily pocketed at mid-off before White's impressive 111 was halted when he got an under-edge on a full-blooded sweep through to Matt Prior.

Mark Cameron was then trapped plumb in front before some lusty hitting from Clint McKay edged Australia ahead.

It proved only the merest of leads, however, when Peter George spooned Bresnan (four for 86) to Tremlett at cover.

England's chase was swift with Strauss pulling George to the midwicket fence to complete the job, and his side's preparations for the Ashes in five days time.