The sight of Paul Collingwood coming on as a replacement fielder midway through the afternoon session is a fair indication that neither this warm-up match nor Ashes tour is going exactly to plan for England.
Collingwood, England’s fielding coach, retired from Test cricket at the end of the 2010-11 Ashes.
But at the age of 41 he found himself back in whites again at the Adelaide Oval as the injury crisis in the touring ranks mounted.
Just 48 hours after Steven Finn was sent home with a tour-ending knee problem, Jake Ball broke down on the second day of this match against a Cricket Australia XI.
With Moeen Ali missing this game with a side strain and Tom Curran, Finn’s replacement, yet to arrive in Adelaide, England currently have just 13 fit players available.
Of those, Stuart Broad is being rested, Gary Ballance was already on the field as a replacement for Ball and reserve wicketkeeper Ben Foakes was working in the nets.
So, when James Vince came off for an over midway through the middle session of this day-night contest, Collingwood came on and was stationed himself at mid-on.
He may have only been on for an over, but Collingwood, still playing for Durham in the County Championship, did have one chance to run-out the CA XI’s captain Tim Paine. He missed.
That should not really have been a surprise given this tour got off on the wrong foot even before England had boarded the plane, with Test vice-captain Ben Stokes’ late-night contretemps in Bristol at the end of the summer and the ongoing police investigation that followed making him unavailable for now.
The players that are here in Australia have a job to do to get ready for the first Test in Brisbane in a fortnight’s time.
Whether Ball will be available or not remains to be seen, England diagnosing him with a sprained right ankle after it buckled in his delivery stride shortly before lunch.
The 26-year-old will be reassessed overnight, with a scan inevitable.
What is quite clear is that Ball, who dismissed Ryan Gibson in his third over on the second day of this day-night match, was winning the race to be England’s fourth seamer for the first Test.
He had already outperformed Craig Overton, his rival for that final place, in England’s opening tour match in Perth last weekend.
He continued that encouraging form here as he bowled with pace and accuracy during a spell that saw him conceded just five runs from the 3.4 overs he bowled before injury struck.
The Nottinghamshire bowler will now almost certainly have to prove his fitness ahead of Brisbane by playing in the final warm-up match against the same opposition in Townsville next week. If he does not then Overton – or even Curran – will be in line for a Test debut at the ground known as the Gabbatoir such is its reputation for being the most hostile venue an England cricketer can play at.
Overton bowled well in his first 11 overs on this second day of four, conceding just 11 runs and picking up the wicket of Jake Carder.
But he was taken for 19 runs by tail-ender Simon Milenko in his 12th over during a final session that saw the CA XI cheekily declare on 233 for nine, a deficit of 60, to give themselves five overs at England’s openers under lights before the close.
Alastair Cook and Mark Stoneman survived, the tourists, who made 293 in their first innings, reaching stumps on five without loss in the second.
The importance of James Anderson, and Broad, will be even greater during the Ashes given the lack of other proven bowling options available to England right now.
So the sight of him picking up two wickets under lights during the twilight period during a spell that saw him break an 86-run stand between Paine and Matthew Short was welcome.
That reduced the CA XI to 160 for seven. But another frustrating partnership between Milenko and Gurinder Sandu, worth 54, further frustrated England until Mason Crane removed both lbw to spark the home declaration.
Crane had picked up the wicket of Will Puckovsi in the middle session but the leg-spinner did not bowl well despite his three wickets, conceding 78 runs from 28 overs.
Chris Woakes, dismissing Nick Larkin and Jason Sangha either side of the first interval, bowled well after a scratchy performance in last week’s tour opener in Perth.
Along with Anderson and Broad he may have a heavy burden to carry during the Ashes.
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