Rain disrupts England's plans

2013-11-08 08:35
Alastair Cook (AP)

Hobart - The England team is concerned at the prospect of going into the Ashes series opener underdone after a second day of their tour match against Australia A was washed out on Friday.

Play was abandoned without a ball bowled for a second day running with the forecast for further rain in Hobart for Saturday's final scheduled day's play.

The washout is a major hindrance to England's Ashes preparations with star players Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad all yet to play on tour and without a first-class match since August.

Several other tourists haven't had the chance to get anything meaningful out of the tour matches against the WA Chairman's XI in Perth and now against Australia A.

Compounding the issues for England in Hobart is that construction at the Bellerive ground has meant there are no indoor facilities available for players to train away from the wet outfield.

Even if some play is possible on the final day, England must now rely on next week's final pre-Ashes four-day tour match against an Invitational XI in Sydney as their form gauge for the Gabba series opener.

England batting coach and former Test captain Graham Gooch admitted the situation in Hobart had left him concerned.

"You want to get some time in the middle, the bowlers want to iron out any little flaws in their run-ups and get their rhythm," Gooch said.

"Cricket is a game of rhythm whether you bat or bowl and certainly if you're sitting in the dressing room you get that sort of malaise of just sitting around.

"Your enthusiasm goes a little bit, so they do need to be out there because time is short now, five playing days before the first Test left and that's minimal, isn't it?"

After two abandoned days at Bellerive, the scoreboard still reads England 318 without loss, with skipper Alastair Cook unbeaten on 154 and Michael Carberry on 153.

It hasn't been all bad news for the tourists with batsmen Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Cook and Carberry all scoring big hundreds so far on tour.

But it is a different proposition for the bowlers ahead of the first Test.

Conditions in Perth were flat and unhelpful for the quicks, and it's highly unlikely James Anderson, Broad, Swann and Chris Tremlett will be able to bowl on the final day against Australia A on Saturday.

England's plan was to rest their pace spearhead Anderson for next week's match in Sydney, but now it seems he will have to play as part of a full-strength attack in a tour match less than a week before the first Test starts on November 21.

Squad members not listed to play Australia A have been travelling from Bellerive into Hobart to use the Tasmanian Cricket indoor facilities.

But players required to remain at the ground in case play restarts have had nowhere to practise.

"I've been to the indoor nets with a few players yesterday and today and no doubt we'll be back there tomorrow if the rain stays around," Gooch said.

"It's okay there for the non-playing guys but the players had to wait to see if the rain subsided and we could get out there. You make the best of it but it's not ideal."

Read more on:    england  |  alastair cook  |  cricket

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