Returning Jonathan Trott comes good – and so does discarded Ben Stokes

Trott scored unbeaten half century on return for England Lions

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Trott marked his return to international duty with an unbeaten half-century for the England Lions against an Invitation XI in Soweto but the tourists were unable to complete victory.

Trott, who had to leave the Ashes tour last winter because of stress-related illness and had not reappeared in England colours until this week, missed out in the Lions’ first innings but the captain scored 79 not out in the second before declaring on 176 for 5, setting the Gauteng XI opposition a notional 441 to win.

He was assisted by Kent’s Sam Billings, who retired on 53 in his first representative innings. Trott struck nine fours and a six flicked over midwicket in adding 115 for the fourth wicket with Billings after they came together on 43 for 3.

Trott left his bowlers 56 overs to dismiss Gauteng a second time and they were reduced to 120 for 8 before the threat of an electrical storm led to the players leaving the field. They did not re-emerge and the match was drawn.

The Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid picked up 2 for 14 and off-spinner Adam Riley struck with his first delivery, while the other wickets were shared among the five seamers in the Lions attack.

As England’s World Cup squad arrived in Australia last night for a warm-up triangular series with the hosts and India, the man they left out of the squad, Ben Stokes, hit top form on his debut for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash Twenty20 domestic competition Down Under.

Arriving as an injury replacement for Jesse Ryder, the 23-year-old, who scored a precocious century in last winter’s Ashes, confirmed his liking for Australian conditions again, hitting eight fours and five sixes in his innings of 77 off just 37 balls in Hobart.

Meanwhile, the Australians continued to dominate their Test series against India with their acting captain, Steve Smith, scoring his fourth consecutive hundred in the four-match series, equalling the record of Australia’s Sir Don Bradman and South Africa’s Jacques Kallis.

Smith, who replaced the injured Michael Clarke after the first Test, added to his remarkable run with 117 as Australia declared on 572 for 7 in their first innings at the SCG. Shaun Marsh chipped in with 73 and debutant Joe Burns 58. In reply, India lost Murali Vijay caught behind third ball, but recovered to reach 71 for 1 by the close.

In the series, Smith has scored 162 not out in Adelaide, 133 in Brisbane and 192 in Melbourne, and now has an aggregate of 698 runs at an average of 139.60. “It’s been a pretty special summer, obviously with the results I’ve got,” the 25-year-old said. “But, look, I always put the team first.”

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