Rusty England ripe for picking
RYAN Harris says England is there for the taking with “rusty” opener Alastair Cook and a soft batting underbelly arming Australian coach Darren Lehmann with the “ammo” for Ashes retribution.
England rolled the CA XI by 192 runs yesterday in its pinkball warm-up in Adelaide but not before its batting was exposed by Tasmanian allrounder Simon Milenko (5/34) and a collection of rookies.
England lost 6/31 on the third night as it faced life without the middle-order insurance of sin-binned superstar Ben Stokes.
Asked if England was vulnerable entering the November 23 Ashes opener in Brisbane, CA XI coach Harris said: “I think it is, especially if Stokes isn’t at No.6 or No.7 but it depends on how the boys bowl to them.”
Former Ashes team-mates Chris Rogers, Harris, head coach Darren Lehmann and ex-England bowling coach David Saker all contributed to a dossier on the tourists’ weak links after the tour match.
“I note down every game I play. If our bowlers ask me, I have some ammo for them. We got some good intel and knowledge on what we want to do,” said 27-Test speedster Harris.
“Chris Rogers played a lot of cricket with and against England’s players and will take some good stuff back. The coach was here, so he saw a bit as well.”
Cook’s highest score is 32 in seven innings while he’s yet to bed down significant batting time with new opening partner Mark Stoneman. Cook can look patchy even when in touch but the 147-Test great has one hit-out in Townsville to find his Ashes groove.
“How can I be nice. . . I thought he looked rusty, to be honest,” said 2013-14 Ashes destroyer Harris of former England skipper Cook.
“He is pretty good in these conditions and knows what he has to do, I’m sure he will look forward to another hit next week.
“He looked a little rusty but we know what he can do, he is world-class. We will see what happens when he comes up to Brisbane.”
All-rounder Stokes topscored with 60 after a 5/63 collapse to set up England’s decisive third Test win against the West Indies in September.
Questions remain how new-breed batsmen Dawid Malan and James Vince will survive in Australian conditions, while England hope key all-rounder Moeen Ali has recovered from a side strain. Stoneman is the only England batsman in solid touch, with three half-centuries this tour.
Skipper Joe Root made 1 in England’s second innings here and remains the first target for Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in Brisbane.
“We have been known to target the captain when we play against them,” said Harris. “If you take out the two or three best players in the opposition it will be hard. That is what the Australians will do.”
WARM-UP: England paceman Craig Overton bowls on the last day of the Ashes tour match at Adelaide Oval.