England could be a step closer to deciding their team for the second Ashes Test next week after Yorkshire pair Gary Ballance and Tim Bresnan both impressed in tour games for their country.
The national side are playing a two day fixture against a Chairman’s XI in Alice Springs but on the whole the batsmen struggled to 212-7 declared with only Ballance reaching 50. The Zimbabwe born batsman slotted into the number three position in the absence of Jonathan Trott who flew home earlier this week due to stress related issues.
Ian Bell captained the side which went into the game without a number of experienced players as Joe Root joined Michael Carberry in opening the innings. The openers could only share 28 runs between them which set the tone for a disappointing day for England but only Root (6) failed to make double figures.
However, just Ballance made use of his start, going on to score 55 from 134 balls on a slow pitch while Jonathan Bairstow ended on 31 not out before replacing his bat for his wicket keeping gloves.
Matt Prior will be frustrated with his knock of 19 off 27 balls with the usual vice-captain just concentrating on his batting in this game before Bell declared to give his bowlers 10 overs before the close of play.
Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn opened the bowling while Graeme Swann had a solitary over without any joy as the hosts reached 16-0 at stumps.
Ben Stokes will be looking to prove his worth with the ball on the second and final day tomorrow after he scored 28 with the bat as the number six position in the team still up for grabs with Joe Root likely to move up the order to the number three position at the Adelaide Oval.
Meanwhile, Bresnan returned to action after his stress fracture of his back for the England Lions in Brisbane against a Queensland Second XI. The match was the first one the 28-year-old featured in since the fourth Ashes Test in the summer at Chester-le-Street and he had a stringent work out.
After scoring 57 not out in the first innings, the bowling all-rounder claimed 4-31 from 10 overs before failing the trouble the scorers in the second innings. Perhaps the most promising thing about the three day game was Bresnan bowled 16 tight overs in the second innings to prove his fitness, this time failing to capture a wicket but only conceding 41 runs.
The quick bowler helped secure a draw for the Lions who stopped their opponents from scoring 18 runs in their last six overs to gain victory with the game resulting in a draw.
England coach Ashley Giles has confirmed Bresnan will be added to the official Ashes squad next week and is in contention to feature in the second Test which is a timely boost to the team who are in desperate need of more stability with both bat and ball.