Prime Minister's XI 347-5 England 181: Jaques' perfect storm leaves Flintoff searching for positives

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The Independent Online

The England captain, Andrew Flintoff, said that his players remain upbeat despite a 166-run defeat against a Prime Minister's XI here yesterday.

England made a terrible start to their Ashes tour at Manuka Oval as they were bowled out for 181 inside 39 overs after the Australian invitational side had posted a mammoth 347 for 5.

Phil Jaques, the man of the match, laid the foundations by hitting 112 off 110 balls, before Shaun Marsh, 78 not out, and the captain, Cameron White, with 30, tormented England's bowlers late on. England were then reduced to 24 for 2 after losing Marcus Trescothick and Alastair Cook inside seven overs. And although Andrew Strauss, who hit 67, and Paul Collingwood, with 35, brought some stability to England's innings, the game was over as a contest when they, along with Kevin Pietersen and Flintoff, were out in quick succession.

However, Flintoff is confident that his team will recover, with two three-day games scheduled before their Ashes defence starts with the first Test in Brisbane on 23 November.

"I think it's fair to say we were outplayed by the Prime Minister's XI. They played some good cricket," he said. "On previous tours we've started slowly and been beaten in warm-up games but we've bounced back quickly. Today was a one-day game and we're not going to get too despondent about it. Next week we've got the New South Wales game, in the longer form, and then we've got South Australia. We know we have to improve and we'll do that next week before the first Test in Brisbane. In the dressing room the confidence is fine. The lads are still upbeat, we've just got to keep working hard."

England lost three wickets to short deliveries, one of which claimed Strauss when caught off Shaun Tait. The South Australia paceman also dismissed Trescothick in the first over and bowled Flintoff to finish with figures of 3 for 21.

"I think the lads are aware of what's happened today," said Flintoff. "Sometimes in one-day cricket you're looking to score runs, you're looking to take the ball on a little bit more, but sometimes you play shots and take balls on which you probably wouldn't necessarily do in the longer form of the game.

"I'm sure the lads would have learned from today going into the three-day games next week."

Two of the few positives for England were that Flintoff (ankle) and Ashley Giles (hip) stepped up their recovery from lengthy injury lay-offs and took a wicket apiece. Flintoff looked sharp as he bowled his full 10 overs, allaying concerns over his fitness heading into the first Test. Giles made his first appearance for England for almost 12 months, and although rival spinner Monty Panesar was also selected, Panesar bowled only three overs.