Craig Overton and James Bracey took their chance to impress as England’s cricketers emerged from lockdown on the first morning of an internal squad match at the Ageas Bowl.
The last time an England side took the field was 111 days ago during a warm-up match in Colombo – a game and a tour that was abandoned as the coronavirus pandemic took hold – and here there were two teams wearing the Three Lions: Team Stokes and Team Buttler.
Ben Stokes will captain next week’s first Test against the West Indies and it was he who won the toss, opting to bowl first on a cloudy morning in Southampton as Jos Buttler’s men reached 70 for one at lunch.
Somerset seamer Overton was the pick of six bowlers, sending down a spell of 6-4-7-1, dismissing Rory Burns for 21 off the outside edge.
Uncapped Gloucestershire prospect Bracey will be equally happy with his morning’s work, batting carefully throughout the session for 33 to begin establishing his credentials.
Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood was asked to kick things off from the Pavilion End, starting with a loosener that snaked down leg and off for four byes. While Burns would have welcomed the soft start, Ben Foakes – keeping wicket ahead of Jonny Bairstow – might have raised an eyebrow at the lack of a ‘wide’ signal.
Mahmood was into his stride a few seconds later, revising his line and beating the outside edge at decent pace.
Of the four players involved in the opening exchanges both Mahmood and Bracey are uncapped in Test cricket, while Burns and James Anderson were making their first appearances in six months.
Both were injured during the tour of South Africa, Burns rupturing ankle ligaments on the eve of the New Year Test in Cape Town and Anderson breaking a rib during that victory.
The pair eased into their work, Burns off and running with four through third man while Anderson got through nine solid overs across two spells.
Overton’s brought a flourish from Bracey, who stroked his best shot of the morning through extra-cover, but also an error. He had 14 to his name when a nick carried through to Stokes – but the skipper parried it as he dived in front of Dom Sibley.
The Somerset seamer showed off a decent bouncer as he dried up the runs and soon had the first breakthrough. Burns felt outside off stump and saw the nick gathered low by Foakes.
Team Buttler edged past 50 in the 17th over but Bracey and Joe Denly found scoring hard leading up to the break, notwithstanding the latter’s late six off Jack Leach.
Somerset wrapped up victory in just two days.
He is preparing to travel to New Zealand.
Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler shared an important sixth-wicket partnership that set up a three-wicket victory at Old Trafford.
Butter’s 75 on day four helped England to victory over Pakistan in the first Test.
The wicketkeeper struggled behind the stumps but made 75 in a match-winning partnership with Chris Woakes.
Craig Overton claimed four wickets for 12 runs in the Bob Willis Trophy match.
The pair turned the tables at Old Trafford with a 139-run stand which turned the tables on the tourists.
England captain Knight, whose side are defending champions, believes it would have been safe to play the tournament.
The pair shared a half-century stand at better than a run a ball to keep an unlikely run-chase alive.
The hosts lost Rory Burns for 10.