England’s worries for the Ashes increased today. As if their lack of meaningful cricket were not enough, Matt Prior, their wicketkeeper, failed to take the field for Australia A’s innings on the fourth day of the tour match.
While the tight calf which prevented Prior keeping wicket does not sound especially troublesome it was another irritant in England’s preparations for the Test series which begins on 21 November in Brisbane.
Prior batted for more than an hour as England at last managed some meaningful practice following two washed out days. But after the tourists declared their first innings at 430 for 7, Joe Root took his place behind the stumps.
Root almost certainly cemented his place in the side for the opening Test with an unbeaten innings of 58 from 97 balls. He looked in good form and the likelihood is that he will drop down the order to number six with Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry opening the betting.
Cook and Carberry retired out when play at last resumed today following their opening stand of 318 on the opening day. This allowed their colleagues some vital time at the crease. But it did not quite work out as England would have liked.
Kevin Pietersen was out leg before to a ball which cut in and barely lifted more than six inches off the ground and Jonathan Trott edged one behind. Although Gary balance scored his first runs for England at the third time of asking he was out lbw for 4, missing a straight one. With that dismissal surely went his chance of playing in the opening Test.
The tourists’ declaration allowed Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann to bowl for the first time on the tour. If both looked rusty these were important overs to have in their legs.
It was heartening for England that Chris Tremlett rediscovered the zip which had been missing in the tour opener at Perth and he is now clear favourite to be the third seamer in the Test attack.
The much curtailed match finished with Australia A on 118 for 3, with two wickets for Jimmy Anderson who was bang on the button and one for Swann who was delighted to win an lbw verdict.