Lessons Learned from England's Tour Match Against the PM's XI

Chris Bradshaw@@BradshawCDFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

Lessons Learned from England's Tour Match Against the PM's XI

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    Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara starred as England cruised to a 172-run victory over an experimental Prime Minister's XI at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Tuesday.

    Questions remain at the top of the order, though, after failures from Alastair Cook and Joe Root.

    The opposition may not have been the toughest, but the win will give the beleaguered tourists a timely morale boost ahead of the second ODI at the Gabba on Friday.

    What other lessons can England take from their latest triumph?

1. Captain Cook's Woes Continue

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    After the challenges posed by Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Co., Alastair Cook could have been forgiven for expecting an easier ride against an experimental Prime Minister's XI attack.

    Unfortunately for the England skipper, Brett Lee doesn't just save his quick stuff for former tabloid newspaper editors. Cook lasted just two balls before nicking off to a lifter from the veteran quickie.

    On the last tour to Australia, everything Cook's bat touched turned to metaphorical gold. Precisely the opposite is happening this time around.

    The captain's commitment to leading from the front cannot be faulted, but he really needs to find some runs.

2. Top Order Wobbles Again

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    Whatever has been written about Alastair Cook's troubles at the top of the order, the same could be said of Joe Root.

    The young Yorkshireman's trip Down Under has been a chastening one and he once again disappointed in Canberra.

    The 23-year-old took 25 balls to make 3 in the ODI opener in Melbourne and scratched around for 14 balls while making just 3 against the Prime Minister's XI.

    Michael Carberry once again tantalised England followers by making a solid start without turning it into a biggie. Gary Ballance's good touch continued too with a second half-century in as many innings.

    England again at times looked uncomfortable against wrist spin with young leggie James Muirhead taking 3 for 52 from his 10 overs.

3. Lower Order Provides Valuable Runs

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    Blown away with alarming regularity during the Test series, England's lower-middle showed signs of life in the ODI opener at the MCG.

    The tail wagged again in Canberra, steering the tourists from a potentially perilous 149 for 6 after 30 overs to the safer waters of 264 for 8 by the close.

    Tim Bresnan's pace may be down since his return from injury, but the Yorshireman remains a reassuring presence coming in at No. 8. Chris Jordan and James Tredwell are no mugs at nine and 10 either.

4. Jos Buttler Is a Potential Game Changer

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    With Matt Prior's future uncertain and Jonny Bairstow unproven with bat and gloves, there's a real opportunity for someone to stake a claim behind the stumps.

    Jos Buttler did his cause no harm with another impressive innings. The new Lancashire's 'keeper's run-a-ball 61 provided the England innings with some much-needed impetus at the business end of proceedings.

5. Solid Outing From the Bowlers

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    The England bowlers made short work of a Prime Minister's XI that included just three specialist batsmen.

    Boyd Rankin showed glimpses of the form that made him a threatening bowler for Ireland and James Tredwell provided early control when surprisingly opening the bowling.

    Chris Jordan, England's best bowler in the first ODI at the MCG, put in another solid performance and Ravi Bopara's 4 for 3 from three overs should cement his place as the fifth bowler.

    The Steven Finn mystery continues, though. The Middlesex quickie was once again nowhere to be seen.