England slump in opening Ashes tour game

Click to follow
The Independent Online

England have suffered a huge setback in the opening game of their Ashes tour by slumping to a 166-run defeat against a Prime Minister's XI at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.

The Australian invitational side made a mammoth 347 for five in their 50 overs and the tourists never got close to threatening that target, being bowled out for 181 in the 39th over.

England lost Marcus Trescothick and Alastair Cook inside seven overs, and although Andrew Strauss (67) and Paul Collingwood (35) brought some stability, the game was over as a contest when they and both Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were out in quick succession.

England's batting display spoiled a promising start to the day, when Flintoff (ankle) and Ashley Giles (hip) stepped up their recovery from lengthy injury lay-offs with encouraging bowling performances.

The pair took the Australians' first two wickets but Ashes hopeful Phil Jaques hit 112 off 110 balls before Shaun Marsh (78 off 56 balls) and captain Cameron White (30 off 14 balls) set England an unassailable target.

Along with Flintoff and Giles, Trescothick was also hoping to gain some match experience after missing the ICC Champions Trophy to recover from a stress-related illness, but his innings lasted just six balls.

Tait forced Trescothick on to the back foot with some lightning deliveries and from the final ball of the first over Tait had the Somerset batsman edge to White at second slip for two.

Strauss attempted to spark the innings into life with three fours on the offside off Ben Hilfenhaus in the fifth over, but Hilfenhaus made amends in his next over.

After Cook (four) edged short of Mark Cosgrove in the slips and then wicketkeeper Tim Paine, the Essex batsman tried a pull shot but skied the ball behind to Paine, who took a comfortable catch to leave England on 24 for two.

Although Strauss and Collingwood kept the scoreboard ticking over, England remained well short of the required run rate, and Collingwood was out in the 20th over after sweeping White to Phil Jaques at deep mid-wicket.

Tait then returned in the 22nd over and also immediately accounted for Strauss, who mis-hit a pull shot to Hilfenhaus at mid-on.

There was still hope for England with Pietersen and captain Flintoff in the middle, but Pietersen (seven) skied a pull shot behind to give Hilfenhaus his second wicket, and two balls later, Tait produced another snorting delivery to bowl Flintoff (one) and leave England on 124 for six.

Geraint Jones (13 not out) and Ashley Giles offered some resistance, adding 22 runs before Giles for 13 was run out in the 31st over after Jones pushed to White at mid-wicket.

Sajid Mahmood hit 22 before being stumped off White in the 36th over, while James

Anderson was lbw for a duck off Adam Ritchard and Monty Panesar (one) was the last man to fall, lofting Ritchard to White at cover.

Earlier, Flintoff had given England a boost with a positive opening spell that was rewarded with the wicket of Tim Paine, who was well caught low to his left by wicketkeeper Jones for six.

Anderson and Mahmood were then replaced by Panesar and Giles after expensive opening spells, and Giles, making his first appearance for England since last November in Pakistan, struck from just his fourth ball.

Cosgrove hit an entertaining 24 before holing out to Strauss, who charged in from deep mid-wicket to take a superb catch.

England then showed some rustiness in the field, before Travis Birt hit both Giles and Panesar for six, before being out for 40 off 45 balls, bowled by Mahmood in the 30th over.

Jaques hit his second six later that over, and then reached his century off 100 balls, but his superb innings came to an end in the 37th over when the New South Wales batsman was caught at long-off by Cook off Collingwood.

That left the Australians on 214 for four, and although Adam Voges (39) was caught at deep square leg by Pietersen off Anderson in the 47th over, Marsh and White finished with a flurry of sixes to set England a target that was never under threat.