Broad shoulders bowling load for England
SYDNEY (AP) — Stuart Broad provided a strong intimation of form but England’s bowlers failed to suppress a batting fightback from a Cricket Australia Invitational XI on Wednesday, the first day of a four-day tour match.
Broad took three wickets and Steven Finn took two as England reduced the combined XI to 93 for five after winning the toss and bowling.
But after the fifth wicket fell in the 32nd over, the flow of wickets dried up. Ryan Carters made 94 not out and captain Peter Nevill 76 not out in an unbroken 178-run partnership which steered the Invitational XI to 271 for five by stumps.
Broad returned 3-36 from 20 overs and Finn took 2-79 from 22.
The Ashes series starts next week in Brisbane and the current match provides England with its last warm-up before the first test.
James Anderson, who will share the new ball with Broad in Brisbane, was rested for the Sydney match, leaving an opportunity for Finn or Boyd Rankin to press their claims for the third seamer’s role in the England lineup.
But after Broad claimed three of the first four wickets, knocking the top off the Invitational XI’s order, England’s bowlers struggled to press home their advantage.
Finn removed Ed Cowan for 51 after the former test opener had started the home team’s batting recovery. But neither he nor Rankin made compelling cases for their inclusion in the test side behind Broad and Anderson.
Rankin had 0-60 from 20 overs, bowling with good pace but failing to join Broad in unsettling the Australian team’s batsmen.
Broad was up-beat and said the tourists were well-placed with their bowling options.
“It’s hugely exciting we have such a choice,” he said. “I genuinely feel whoever goes into that seamer’s spot will do a fantastic job.
“Boyd’s bounce is exceptional, Finny has a fantastic strike-rate in test cricket and (Chris) Tremlett has won games for England in test cricket with his huge frame and consistency. All the guys add a huge amount, it’s a tough call to make.”
The Invitational XI was severely weakened by the withdrawals of several of its big name players, including Usman Khawaja, Phil Hughes, Adam Voges and Steve O’Keefe. England had been due to play a New South Wales second XI but it protested that it needed a stronger workout in the leadup to the Ashes.
Cricket Australia sought to provide that but the strength of the combined side was diminished by withdrawals through injury or because players were claimed for domestic matches.
The resistance provided by Carters and Nevill was, therefore, more confounding to the England bowlers. Cowan, who opened the batting and survived the early collapse, seemed set for a substantial innings before pulling a ball from Finn directly to mid-wicket.
Carters hit 10 fours and a six in a 199-ball innings and was closing in on a maiden first-class century at stumps, while Nevill pressed his case for being considered a test understudy to Brad Haddin.
“We always backed ourselves to have a really good crack at the English and I think we showed today we’ve got some fight in us,” Carters said.
″(Nevill) is a really quality first-class player. He’s been doing it for a few years now and today he showed he can also do it against international opposition.”
Broad underscored his threat to Australia with another period of fast and accurate swing bowling.
He removed Aaron Finch in the second over, caught behind for 4, then had Callum Ferguson trapped lbw for 8.
He returned after lunch to have Ben Rohrer caught at gully to a brilliant catch by Michael Carberry.