A morale-sapping draw and a squad member's suspension for pouring a drink over the head of Jimmy Anderson will ensure this weekend's Magellan Ashes tour game in suburban Perth is something England would like to forget.
England's stand-in skipper Moeen Ali, the only member of the visitors' incumbent Test XI to feature in the match, top-scored in their second innings with a quickfire 47 that included him literally belting the ball out of Richardson Park on Sunday.
That 41-ball knock, compiled under conditions and pressure a world away from what Moeen will confront in the third Test that starts at the WACA on Thursday, was the highlight for an under-siege England.
The lowlights were varied and embarrassing.
A Cricket Australia XI, featuring a handful of players with first-class experience, outplayed England for large stretches of the game and fell just 25 runs short of victory.
Captain Travis Dean (100) and Will Bosisto (50) shared a 152-run opening stand in 21 overs, batting with well-founded belief they could actually chase down a target of 294 in 37 overs.
Dean's century came off 68 balls.
The Victorian opener is not renowned for his aggression; he doesn't have a Big Bash League contract and in his own words was "really struggling" in the first half of the Sheffield Shield season.
Dean and Bosisto both holed out. The hosts continued to hand over wickets as they tried to clear the pickets, finishing 8-269 as England set defensive fields and barely avoided the ignominy of defeat.
England's bowlers and fielders blundered and boiled, with umpires taking additional drinks breaks on a day when the temperature hit 37.7C.
The underwhelming result comes as criticism becomes more pointed from pundits and past players. Kevin Pietersen suggested the wheels could come off in Perth and it was time for Alastair Cook, gearing up for his 150th Test, to retire.
The two-day match started with English batsman Ben Duckett being suspended for a misguided attempt at a gee-up in a Perth bar during the early hours of Friday morning, heaping further pressure on the visitors.
Moeen's hopes of spending quality time at the crease, having fallen to Nathan Lyon four times in the Test series, evaporated after just 36 balls on Saturday morning.
But an arrangement brokered between rival coaches Trevor Bayliss and John Davison at lunch on Sunday allowed Moeen to bat again.
The hosts declared at 4-151 on Sunday, inviting the visitors to bat a further 20 overs and make a game of it. Moeen's men posted 3(dec)-130 in their second innings.
Dan Lawrence put down a sitter at first slip when Bosisto was on eight, while Moeen was unable to bowl because of a cut on his spinning finger.
Day one report
It was another tough day for England cricket on Saturday.
While an England XI captained by Test allrounder Moeen Ali were outplayed by a Cricket Australia XI at Perth’s Richardson Park, news of more disciplinary issues surfaced in the form of Ben Duckett and a boozy night out in the Western Australian capital.
Duckett, who is in Australia as part of the England Lions squad, was set to play in the two-day tour match this weekend but an alcohol-related incident on Thursday night saw the 23-year-old suspended for the fixture.
As Duckett waits his fate from an ECB disciplinary hearing, his teammates found stiff opposition in the CA XI, who at stumps on day one had moved to 1-57, 257 runs behind England XI’s 9-314 declared.
Not a lot can be achieved in a two-day match other than a fine tune for those players expected to play in next week’s third Test at the WACA Ground or a final chance for the Test aspirants pressing their claims for a Magellan Ashes berth.
Unfortunately for England, none of the above was achieved.
CA XI skipper Travis Dean won the toss and sent the visitors in as looming thunderstorms approached.
A wicket in the eighth over brought England’s reserve Test batsman Gary Ballance to the crease but a dozen balls later he was back in the pavilion, caught in the gully driving Jackson Koop.
With England’s Test top seven finding the going tough against an Australia attack firing on all cylinders, a big score from Ballance would have given the England selectors something to think about should there be another batting hiccup at the WACA. It was not to be.
The Yorkshireman’s exit brought Moeen to the crease, the Test allrounder who has batted four times in the Ashes and been dismissed on each occasion by nemesis Nathan Lyon.
Moeen looked as graceful as ever as entered lunch on 23 but in the second over after the long break he was out feathering an edge to wicketkeeper Josh Phillipe from the bowling of Tasmania’s Gabe Bell.
Still recovering from a split finger he suffered in the first Test at the Gabba, Moeen won’t bowl in this match.
England XI’s innings was built around Keaton Jennings’ 80 and a rapid unbeaten 77 from Tom Curran, who’s 90-ball knock included nine fours and a six.
Rain washed away time and overs in the first two sessions to leave a mammoth final session of nearly three hours to end the day. On the stroke of 4.30 and the loss of the ninth wicket, Moeen declared to give his side 18 overs at the youngsters.
Mark Wood, the Durham quick whose name has been put forward as a possible solution to England’s pace bowling ‘sameness’ problem, bowled with great speed but without success.
One short ball zipped past the head of a CA XI opener but it was just one delivery amongst the 36 he sent down as the sun set and shadows stretched across the pristine outfield.
Fast bowler Jake Ball, who played in Brisbane before the selection axe fell, was the pick of the England XI attack with figures of 0-20 from seven overs.
Curran picked up the only wicket – Josh Phillipe lbw for 18 – before leg-spinner Mason Crane found bounce and spin as he closed out play with CA XI captain Travis Dean unbeaten on 29 and No.3 Jake Doran 11no.
Cricket Australia: Travis Dean (c), Will Bosisto, Jake Doran, Sam Harper, Clint Hinchliffe, Mac Wright, Josh Phillipe (wk), Nick Buchanan, Michael Cormack, Gabe Bell, Jackson Koop. Alex Bevilaqua (12th man), Michael Parker.
England: Keaton Jennings, Dan Lawrence, Gary Ballance, Moeen Ali (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Liam Livingstone, Joe Clarke, Mark Wood, Tom Curran, Mason Crane, Jake Ball. Jack Leach (12th man).
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
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