Thorough workout for England bowlers

England

Seamers Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and company were afforded comprehensive exercise on day one of England's four-day tour fixture against Cricket Australia's Invitational XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

Seamers Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and company were afforded comprehensive exercise on day one of England's four-day tour fixture against Cricket Australia's Invitational XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.

Fellow half-centurions Ryan Carters and Peter Nevill, in particular, truly tested the visitors' zeal during an unbroken 178-run alliance in 58 overs, which carried the hosts to a fine total of 271 for five at the close of play.

Searching for prime fitness and form ahead of the opening Ashes Test, which will get underway in Brisbane next week, Broad was the pick of the fast bowlers. The lanky right-armer secured figures of three for 36 in 20 overs, including the key dismissals of the threatening Aaron Finch and Callum Ferguson.

Finn, meanwhile, was promising in patches – but the Ireland-born Boyd Rankin was unable to set himself apart from fellow Test contender Chris Tremlett. Spinner Graeme Swann characteristically complemented the seamers, while part-timers Joe Root and Jonathan Trott made up the numbers during quiet periods.

Opener Ed Cowan, over looked for the Australian squad, offered the selectors food for thought. The talented left-hander struck nine boundaries en route to a solid 51 before perishing to Finn.

His departure paved the way for Carters and Nevill, who were remarkably at ease against this international attack. Admittedly, the pitch and overhead conditions were entirely conducive to batting. Skipper Alastair Cook's decision to bowl first remained correct, regardless.

Carters ended proceedings on 94 not out, while Nevill moved to an unbeaten 76. A century each is on the cards come Thursday, as is 350-plus total. The hosts won't be bothered by an extended stretch in the field. It's their bowlers, not batsman, requiring the additional match practice.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow will take heart from Tuesday's performance. Drafted into the XI in the absence of the injured Matt Prior, Bairstow was largely sound – and took the catch to get rid of Finch.

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