Townsville - Mark Stoneman scored the first century of the
Ashes tour as Alastair Cook regained form in the match against a Cricket
Australia XI in Townsville on Thursday.
The in-form Surrey left-hander cracked 111 off 159 balls and
shared in a 172-run opening stand with former skipper Cook as the tourists
clubbed their way to 337 for three at the close on the second day of the
In the final warm-up game ahead of next week's Ashes Test
series opener against Australia in Brisbane, Cook finally found some batting form
with 70 off 127 balls after a run of low scores.
At stumps, captain Joe Root was unbeaten on 62 with Dawid
Malan on 57 to cap a pleasing day for the tourists against a lightweight CA XI
Regardless of the strength of the inexperienced bowling
opposition, England's batsmen spent precious time out in the middle ahead of
the first Gabba Test, starting on November 23.
Coach Trevor Bayliss had said after England's thumping
192-run victory over the CA XI in Adelaide last week that his batsmen had to
Stoneman, who has been England's best-performing batsman on
tour with three half-centuries, got on with the job on Thursday before he was
caught and bowled by leg-spinner Daniel Fallins immediately after tea.
He showed attacking intent from the outset after Stuart
Broad had taken the final home wicket to dismiss Cricket Australia for 250.
Stoneman survived a difficult chance to gully on 41 before
reaching 50 off 66 balls and a hundred off 140.
But if Stoneman was the batting star, the tourists would
have been delighted with Cook's return to form after his fitful start to the
The former captain took 11 balls to get off the mark but
once set he hardly looked in trouble until he edged an attempted cut off Matt
Short to the keeper on 70.
It was a sign that Cook, who plundered 766 runs when England
won in Australia seven years ago and had made just 45 runs in three innings so
far, that this may have been a personal turning point on tour.
But there was promise of more runs to come on Friday's third
day with Root and Malan on unbeaten half-centuries and the innings lead already
The only downside to the day for the tourists was James
Vince, batting at number three, who went for a classy but all too brief 26.
Vince was convinced he had hit a ball from Fallins into the
ground before he was taken at short leg but, after consulting, the umpires made
what replays suggested was the right decision to give him out.