CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Another batting failure by England captain Alastair Cook overshadowed his team’s 172-run win over a Prime Minister’s XI in a 50-over tour match on Tuesday.
England finally brought to an end its traumatic run of six straight losses in Australia, embracing its 5-0 defeat in the Ashes series and its loss on Sunday in the first of a four-match one-day international series.
Ravi Bopara took four wickets for three runs and Boyd Rankin 2-39 as England bowled out the Prime Minister’s XI for 92 in 26 overs in reply to its 264-8 in 50.
The emphatic win may be heartening for the tourists, who face the second ODI against Australia at Brisbane on Friday. But Cook’s personal torment continued when he survived only two balls before being dismissed for 1, and youngster Joe Root fell for the same score.
Cook was out third ball for 4 in the first match of the one-day series on Sunday and, after scoring only 246 runs at an average of 24.6 in the test series, has managed only 19 runs in his last four innings.
Root, who early in the Ashes series seemed to be the hope of his team, has also fallen into a slump: He faced 14 balls on Tuesday to make 1 run and has scored only 66 runs in his last six innings.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler made 61 from 60 balls and Gary Ballance 56 from 71 balls to lead England after it had been 12-2 with the dismissals of Cook and Root.
Their 264-8 proved more than adequate as the Prime Minister’s XI, largely a collection of veterans and untested youngsters, crumbled to be all out for 92 in reply.
The 39-year-old batsman Brad Hodge top-scored with 28 as he tried to stake a claim for a recall to the Australian team for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March, six years after he last played international cricket.
Rankin took two early wickets as the Prime Minister’s XI slumped to 58-4 when Hodge was out, then Bopara snatched his four wickets and effected a run out during a period of five overs which snuffed out the home team’s challenge.
Any delight England took in a drought-breaking victory was tempered if not wholly overshadowed by Cook’s continuing malaise.
The traditional tour match at Canberra’s Manuka Oval seemed a perfect opportunity for Cook to play himself back into form but he fell in what has become a familiar manner, caught behind while playing wide of off stump without moving his feet. His discomfort may have been made more pronounced by the fact the man who claimed his wicket was the 37-year-old retired Australia fast bowler Brett Lee.
Lee was last seen bowling an over at the flamboyant TV host Piers Morgan and, while still active in domestic Twenty20 cricket, can hardly be counted as a frontline bowler.
Root also fell to Lee, trapped lbw, as England’s innings sagged before the more solid efforts of opener Michael Carberry, who made 47 from 50 balls, Ballance and Buttler.
Lee finished with 2-22 from seven overs.
England was 129-5 when Bopara was out in the 26th over and owed the competitive nature of its total to Buttler, batting at No. 7.
Buttler put on 80 runs for the seventh wicket with Tim Bresnan (36) and helped England achieve a run rate of 5 per over in an innings which contained only one six and 18 fours.