England's first warm-up match with Western Australia Chairman's XI threw up more questions than answers as the three-day game ended in an unconvincing draw.
That's not intended to take anything away from Western Australia, however, who acquitted themselves well and should be proud of their performance across the three-day game.
Batting first on a good wicket, the hosts declared on 451-5. All of the top six batsmen scored at least a half century and England's bowlers struggled to string a series of wickets together.
When it came their turn to bat, the tourists again flattered to deceive, and a promising start of 330-3 prompted a collapse so startling that viewers would have been forgiven for thinking they were watching the England team of the early Nineties.
Western Australia's second innings showed more promising signs for the travelling bowlers. Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn managed to make some inroads into the top order, but the home side were again allowed to stabilise the innings.
Below is the full scorecard, with top performers for each innings underneath.
|Western Australia Chairman's XI: First Innings|
|LJC Towers||c Prior b Root||77||170||10||0|
|MS Harris||c Bell b Anderson||69||85||13||0|
|CA Lynn||c Carberry b Rankin||104||124||16||1|
|MR Marsh||c Prior b Stokes||58||59||10||1|
|J Allenby||lbw b Finn||53||98||8||0|
|AJ Turner||not out||62||95||11||0|
|TIF Triffitt||not out||18||21||2||0|
|Extras||(b 5, w 1, nb 4)||10|
|Total||(5 wickets dec; 108 overs)||451|
Man of the Innings: Chris Lynn, Western Australia
With just two prior first-class centuries to his name, Chris Lynn stepped up to lead the charge on a very successful day for the batting side.
Although everyone made a valuable contribution prior to the declaration, it was Lynn who was most intent on getting after the England bowlers. Western Australia's No. 3 hit 104 off 124 balls—including 16 fours and a six—and steered his side toward their daunting first innings declaration.
For England's bowlers, only James Anderson could justifiably leave the field with his head held high. After Anderson's 1-55 from 23 overs, the next best set of figures came from part-timer Joe Root, who finished with 1-32 from 11.
Of the other front-line bowlers looking to claim a place in the first Ashes Test, Boyd Rankin looked the most threatening, but in reality there wasn't much to be positive about.
Chris Tremlett, in particular, failed to generate any meaningful pace and went wicketless for 88 off 21 overs.
|England: First Innings|
|MA Carberry||c Allenby b Turner||78||100||12||0|
|JE Root||lbw b Allenby||36||60||7||0|
|IJL Trott||not out||113||236||10||1|
|IR Bell||retired out||115||165||19||2|
|GS Ballance||c Triffitt b Duffield||0||1||0||0|
|MJ Prior*†||c Triffitt b Duffield||4||4||1||0|
|BA Stokes||c Triffitt b Allenby||4||10||1||0|
|ST Finn||b Beer||15||40||1||0|
|CT Tremlett||lbw b Beer||0||2||0||0|
|JM Anderson||c Triffitt b Allenby||8||6||2||0|
|WB Rankin||c Triffitt b Allenby||0||1||0||0|
|Extras||(lb 2, w 2, nb 14)||18|
|Total||(all out; 101.5 overs)||391|
Man of the Innings: Michael Carberry, England
It's easy to look at the scorecard and claim that Ian Bell deserves to be named as England's most impressive player, and there's nothing really wrong with that standpoint.
Bell has been magnificent since the beginning of the summer and was England's best player in the recent Ashes series by a long way. The fluency with which he made 115 in this game—before retiring out—was another reminder of just how important he is to England's hopes of returning home with the coveted urn.
However, Michael Carberry's 78 was made under immense pressure.
Pressure from replacing Alastair Cook; pressure from his previous failures; pressure from Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes further down the order. Carberry withstood all this and still managed to play freely, hitting his 78 from 100 balls and striking the ball very well.
With Cook and Kevin Pietersen likely to return to the side in the next game, Carberry may not get another chance. He needed to get himself noticed to be in with a shot at making the final 11 for the first Test.
He did just that—aided by the spectacular collapse that saw Ballance and Stokes both fail—and presented the coaches with an interesting selection dilemma.
|Western Australia Chairman's XI: Second Innings|
|LJC Towers||c Anderson b Rankin||1||13||0||0|
|MS Harris||lbw b Rankin||22||24||4||0|
|CA Lynn||not out||61||90||9||0|
|MR Marsh||lbw b Finn||62||74||10||0|
|TIF Triffitt†||c †Prior b Finn||0||3||0||0|
|AJ Turner||lbw b Tremlett||12||20||1||0|
|J Allenby||not out||7||11||1||0|
|Extras||(b 2, nb 1)||3|
|Total||(5 wickets; 39 overs)||168|
Man of the Innings/Match: Chris Lynn, Western Australia
Although England's bowlers fared better in the second innings, it was Chris Lynn who again rose to thwart their plans.
Coming in at 9-1, Lynn then saw his side drop to 24-2 as Rankin threatened to rip through the top order. However, in conjunction with Mitchell Marsh, Lynn was able to manoeuvre Western Australia back to a respectable position.
Lynn remained unbeaten as the game ended in a draw with the hosts on 168-5. Lynn was a consistent thorn in England's side and showed both attacking flair and patience, switching between the two according to the demands of the game.
It was a complete batting performance that further illustrated the mammoth task England have ahead of themselves this winter.
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