England are being left seriously short of match practice before the Ashes series. The third day of their tour match against Australia A was washed out like the second leaving the tourists at 318-0 and meaning that nine of the team have not yet taken the field.
Three of their senior players - Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen - have yet to bat, bowl or field on tour and with a maximum of five days' cricket left before the First Test on November 21 there is a grave danger of being undercooked.
Graham Gooch, the side's batting coach, said: "It's always frustrating for cricketers, you want to get out there and play, you want to show what you can do, get your game in good order but although the cricketers are sanguine about it, it is frustrating.
"Cricket is a game of rhythm whether you bat or you bowl. You do get that sort of malaise if you're sitting in a dressing room. It's difficult, your enthusiasm goes a little bit. They do need to be out there because time is short now."
The difficulties are obvious and England must now try to make something of the final day of the match, assuming the rain stops, by batting on for perhaps a session and then giving the bowlers an outing.
But it also means they must alight on their Test team quicker and less thoroughly than they would have liked. Only the match against an NSW Invitation XI next week remains and almost all those with a chance of playing in Brisbane will need more work in the middle.
In the presence of the rain, the day was dominated by England's dietary requirements. Australia's media can barely contain themselves after being handed the glossy brochures produced by England listing their food requirements during Test matches and also the recipes.
The menu includes such delicacies as quinoa, feta and cranberry salad and lamb and pea koftas with mint yoghurt.
Australians seem vastly amused by England's attention to detail and their former fast bowler Merv Hughes, not a man automatically linked with the finer, more delicate things in life, said when asked what he would do if fed piri piri bread tofu with tomato salsa: "I'd dry reach for the next three days."
Hughes, like many of his compatriots could barely credit the litany of England requests at all Test grounds, which are contained in the booklets of 13 and 37 pages. "Give me a ham and pickle sandwich," he said.
"It just shows how far the game has come. It's all about looking after the players. If you have a look at the staff now, Errol Alcott was our physio, dietician and fitness adviser, but these days there's a dietician, a fitness adviser and a physio who all have to justify their positions, so everyone's got to make a splash. They could just back off and let the guys make some runs and take some wickets." England merely wish they could take to the field.
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