England managed a solitary wicket all day in their final match action before the Ashes, but still earned the praise of coach Trevor Bayliss.
Rookie batsmen Jason Sangha (133) and his Cricket Australia XI captain Matt Short (134no) shut England out for 75 overs in all, putting on a remarkable 263 together, as the inexperienced hosts racked up 364 for four on a flat pitch.
Joe Root’s attack had no answer, and the only wicket they could muster – 18-year-old Sangha’s, caught sweeping off his 226th ball – fell to Mason Crane, the bowler least likely of all to be involved in next week’s first Test in Brisbane.
Nonetheless, reflecting on the stalemate at the Tony Ireland Stadium as well as a resounding victory over the same opponents in Adelaide last week and another draw against a Western Australia XI in Perth, Bayliss pronounced himself satisfied with England’s warm-up campaign.
“Over the three games we have got about as much as we possibly could,” he said, reasoning that even their unsuccessful last day in Townsville could end up being beneficial when the going inevitably gets tough at some point against Australia over the next eight weeks.
“Today wasn’t the perfect game of cricket for us.
“But it’s time in the dirt, and we will probably have another one or two of them in the Test matches. It was probably good to experience it, and the heat as well.”
Bayliss insists conditions, and fine batting from CA’s fourth-wicket pair, provided ample mitigation for England’s lack of progress after most had expected them to wrap up another convincing win after banking a 265-run first-innings lead.
“We are always a bit disappointed when we don’t take 10 for 90,” he said.
“But the wicket was very flat, and those two young guys batted very well. If you play cricket long enough those days will happen. They stuck at it, and that’s all you can ask.
“Over the three games, we started slow, then built it up over the last couple of games. A Test match, an Ashes Test, will see our intensity rise as high as it possibly can.”
After Craig Overton’s travails in Townsville, where he recorded match figures of two for 97 and registered his third successive duck on tour, fit-again Jake Ball appears to have moved back ahead of him as England’s probable fourth seamer at the Gabba.
Bayliss said: “I thought Ball was our best bowler in Perth, and he started off that way again in Adelaide too. He’s fine now, bowled yesterday, got through a few spells in the nets today – and now he’s bowling again [in middle practice after the early close]. He should be fit and raring to go.”
Whoever gets the nod next week, Bayliss is promising England’s approach will be a positive one.
“Australia … like to hit the opposition hard early,” he said. “We have been talking about going hard ourselves – we are not here to make up the numbers, we are here to win. We’re very confident.”
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