Concerns for England after thrashing - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Concerns for England after thrashing

By Adam Cooper 10/11/2006 07:10:05 PM Comments (0)

The bowling didn't provide answers and the batting threw up more questions as England crashed to a massive 166-run defeat in its Ashes tour opener to the Prime Minister's XI on Friday.

Andrew Flintoff's side might currently hold the Ashes, but it was shocked and swept away by a bunch of young guns with only four Tests and 16 one-day internationals between them.

England's bowlers were blasted for 5-347 after Flintoff won the toss and sent the locals in, before the tourists succumbed for 181 including a couple of meek shots against short balls.

Although just a tour opener, Australian captain Ricky Ponting is sure to watch the tape of this game again before the first Test in Brisbane, starting November 23.

The stars were NSW opener Phil Jaques, who hammered 112 from 110 balls, and South Australian Shaun Tait, whose pace earned him 3-21, and the pair delighted at reminding national selectors how damaging they can be.

The result left England with several concerns, as the four bowlers fighting to play at the Gabba had little impact, the two batsmen who desperately needed a hit both missed out and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones took one great catch but dropped two tough ones.

Pacemen Sajid Mahmood (1-97 off nine overs) and James Anderson (1-65 off 10) had days best forgotten, spinner Ashley Giles (1-53) was solid in his first match for a year, but Monty Panesar (0-17 from three) was under-bowled.

Marcus Trescothick and Alastair Cook squandered their chances on a good wicket with bad shots, and having missed the Champions Trophy tournament in India, made just six runs from 20 balls between them.

Flintoff's dismissal - bowled for one by a Tait inswinger - ended the match as a contest, and the England skipper later tried to shake off the defeat.

"We're not going to get too despondent about it, we know we have to improve and we'll do that before the first Test in Brisbane," he said.

"We've had a defeat today but it doesn't turn us into a bad side, we've still got talented players and we've got to express ourselves in the weeks to come."

Flintoff's opening spell of 1-11 from five overs was as good as it got for England, and the star allrounder was pleased with his biggest bowling effort in a match since he underwent ankle surgery in July.

"I'm pleased. I got 10 overs under my belt and I started well, bowled three spells, came back strong and the body felt good and the ankle's pulled up nicely," he said.

"From my own personal point, I was pleased with my 10 overs."

The heavy scoring of the PM's batsmen meant Panesar was denied a decent chance to show his wares against Giles, as Flintoff turned to medium pacer Paul Collingwood.

"It would have been nice to have got Monty through a few more (overs), but the situation of the game dictated how many overs he bowled in the end," Flintoff said.

Jaques said Flintoff bowled "sensationally" early, but also felt Panesar bowled well before he was taken off.

Skipper Cameron White said the PM's XI had wanted to put the tourists on the back foot, and was pleased Tait and Ben Hilfenhaus (2-49) drew bad shots out of Trescothick, Cook and Andrew Strauss (67) through some good short balls.

"If that helps the Australian team in some way then we've done our part," White said.

England plays NSW in a three-day match starting Sunday and then plays South Australia from November 17-19.

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