11202017

Four England batsmen hit 50s in Ashes warm-up but Cook & Root fail

James Vince

James Vince averages 19.27 in Test cricket for England after seven matches and 11 innings

Four England batsmen hit half-centuries against a Western Australia XI on the opening day of their first match of the Ashes tour in Perth.

Both Alastair Cook and Joe Root (9) fell cheaply, with the former captain dismissed for a second-ball duck.

Mark Stoneman (85) and James Vince (82) were both dropped but put on 153 runs for the second wicket.

Gary Ballance and Dawid Malan also passed 50 before retiring, with England reaching 349-6 at the close.

England begin the defence of the Ashes in Brisbane on 23 November.

Opener Cook, who was dismissed first ball when England were last in Perth in 2013, played at the second ball of the innings from Nathan Coulter-Nile and edged through to the keeper.

Cook and Root are expected to prosper in Australia but there are question marks over the robustness of the rest of England’s batting, with Vince one of those under the microscope after scoring 212 runs in seven Tests.

The Hampshire man Vince was dropped three times – on 47, 63 and 67 – with two of those catches spilled at slip, while Surrey left-hander Stoneman was given a lifeline when on 54 after being dropped in the gully.

Root was disappointed at being given out caught behind, with the ball appearing to brush his pad, to leave England 184-4.

But Ballance played patiently to reach his half-century from 102 balls, despite also being dropped on 36, while Malan hit eight boundaries on his way to an 88-ball 56.

England have said they will use 13 players at the Waca, after all-rounder Moeen Ali and fast bowler Steven Finn were sidelined with injuries.

What they said

England opener Mark Stoneman told BBC Sport: “It was good to get that time in the middle. There was enough there to keep the opening bowlers interested with the new ball and there’s that bit of extra bounce here, which always has the catchers in play.

“It was nice once we got through that new-ball period to settle in and get into some rhythm.

“Cook and Root are the bankers – it’s a shame for them on a personal note but it gave other guys the chance to get time in the middle.”

Analysis

Charles Dagnall, Test Match Special commentator

It was hardly a testing day for England’s batsmen, yet it was productive for those aiming to claim the three and five spots for Brisbane.

Vince led a charmed life and Ballance was given a working over by Nathan Coulter-Nile, who was easily the most threatening bowler, but ground out a nuggety 50.

Despite Cook and Root falling cheaply, England will lose little sleep over their form.

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