England struggle in opener
Perth - England received a stark reality check ahead of the Ashes in their three-day match against struggling Western Australia at the WACA Ground.
After their bowlers had made a positive impression on the first day to keep WA to 242-8 (dec) in their tour opener, England's top order batsmen failed to impress on the second day on Saturday.
The tourists slumped to 117-7 before an unbeaten half-century from Chris Broad, who also took three wickets on the first day, enabled them to declare at 223-8 at tea on the second day.
Then the home side, which has been struggling in the domestic first-class competition, cruised to 109-1 at stumps, an overall lead of 128.
Opener Wes Robinson was on 46 and Michael Swart was on 16.
The only bowler to taste success was Steve Finn, who trapped Liam Davis lbw for 43 to end an opening stand of 77.
The English arrived in Australia with high hopes of not only defending the Ashes, but winning their first series Down Under since 1986-87, and elected to go into the match against WA at full strength in a bid to build momentum for the upcoming Tests.
However, their batsmen struggled against a WA attack that lost one of its opening bowlers early in the day.
It was left to Broad to add some much-needed respectability to the England score with 53 not out, adding 64 in quick time with Graeme Swann (37 not out) after coming together at 159-8.
Of the English top order, only Kevin Pietersen, looking to put an indifferent 12 months with the bat behind him, put together an innings of consequence, making 58 including nine boundaries.
But even his knock was streaky and included a life on 25.
It did, however, take a brilliant catch to remove him, with Australian Test player and WA captain Marcus North plucking a sensational one-hander above his head at gully from the bowling of Michael Hogan.
The rest of the English top order offered little resistance against a bowling attack that has been struggling in the domestic first-class competition, with openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook both falling cheaply to Steve Magoffin, who then limped off with a knee problem.
Cook was bowled late on the first day for five after the ball hit him on the body and deflected onto the stumps.
Strauss fell in the second over of day two, the left-hander edging a ball angled across him and caught behind for 14.
When night-watchman James Anderson fell for four, England were in early strife at 27-3.
The tourists steadied briefly with a 61-run stand between Pietersen and Jonathan Trott before the latter was caught behind for 24 from the spin of Michael Beer (3-108) just after lunch.
Paul Collingwood (4) and Michael Prior (0) failed to get in as the tourists lost four wickets for just 29 runs to slump to 117-7 in a disappointing start to their tour with the bat.
WA 1st innings
W. Robinson c and b Collingwood 62
L. Davis c Swann b Broad 0
M. Swart c Collingwood b Broad 0
M. North c Swann b Broad 19
A. Voges run out (Collingwood) 72
L. Pomersbach c Prior b Anderson 21
L. Ronchi c Anderson b Finn 32
S. Magoffin not out 17
R. Duffield c Prior b Swann 3
M. Beer not out 2
Extras: (lb12, nb2) 14
Total (for eight wkts, declared; 82 overs) 242
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Davis), 2-0 (Swart), 3-42 (North), 4-129 (Robinson), 5-183 (Pomersbach), 6-187 (Voges), 7-225 (Ronchi), 8-230 (Duffield).
Bowling: Anderson 22-6-48-1, Broad 18-5-47-3 (2nb), Finn 19-3-65-1, Swann 20-4-60-1, Collingwood 3-0-10-1.
England 1st innings
A. Strauss c Ronchi b Magoffin 14
A. Cook b Magoffin 5
J. Anderson c Pomersbach b Duffield 4
J. Trott c Ronchi b Beer 24
K. Pietersen c North b Hogan 58
P. Collingwood c North b Hogan 4
I. Bell c Pomersbach b Beer 21
M. Prior c Voges b Beer 0
S. Broad not out 53
G. Swann not out 37
Extras: (w2, nb1) 3
Total: (for eight wkts, declared; 62 overs) 223
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Cook), 2-19 (Strauss) 3-27 (Anderson), 4-88 (Trott), 5-101 (Collingwood), 6-116 (Pietersen), 7-117 (Prior), 8-159 (Bell).
Bowling: Duffield 17-3-57-1 (1nb), Magoffin 5.4-2-12-2, Hogan 13.2-6-36-2, Beer 24-4-108-3 (1w), Pomersbach 2-0-10-0 (1w).
WA 2nd innings
W. Robinson not out 46
L. Davis lbw Finn 43
M. Swart not out 16
Extras: (3lb, 1nb) 4
Total (for one wkt, 34 overs) 109
Fall of wickets: 1-77 (Davis).
Bowling: Anderson 7-2-25-0, Broad 5-1-11-0 (1nb), Swann 11-2-34-0, Finn 8-2-32-1, Collingwood 3-2-4-0.