Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - JON TUXWORTH

ENG­LAND cricket cap­tain Alas­tair Cook got to know some of the lo­cals yes­ter­day, cud­dling a koala and feed­ing a croc­o­dile at Bil­l­abong Sanc­tu­ary. Cook is in Townsville with his team­mates for this week’s pre- Ashes tour game at River­way Sta­dium.

FOR­GET the sear­ing pace of fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cum­mins, Eng­land crick­eters had an even more fear­some Aus­tralian to con­tend with in Townsville yes­ter­day.

Af­ter over­com­ing ini­tial nerves, Eng­land cap­tain Alas­tair Cook and all- rounder Moeen Ali fed chick­ens to Bil­l­abong Sanc­tu­ary’s mon­ster 700kg croc­o­dile Bully dur­ing their first day in the city.

The tourists also com­pleted the less- daunt­ing task of pos­ing for pho­tos with koalas in the build- up to the four- day clash with a Cricket Aus­tralia XI at River­way Sta­dium from to­mor­row.

“I’m a bit ner­vous, I just heard there’s one in there ( wa­ter) some­where but I should be all right,” Ali joked be­fore giv­ing Bully his lunch.

Ali will play his first game of the tour in the fi­nal warm- up clash be­fore the Ashes af­ter over­com­ing a side strain.

Cicket Aus­tralia XI pace­man Gurinder Sandhu will be look­ing to keep the pres­sure on Eng­land’s bats­man, who have bat­tled for runs in the first two clashes in Perth and Ade­laide.

“It’s good for us to get a taste of play­ing at the high­est level and see what we need to work on,” Sandhu said.

“I was here a few years ago play­ing in the un­der- 19 World Cup. ( River­way) Sta­dium is a great sta­dium and I ac­tu­ally like play­ing there. It’s a very good cricket wicket, there’s a bit in it early like there should be in a four- day wicket.”

Tick­ets can be pur­chased via www. cricket. com. au/ tick­ets or at the gate for $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for con­ces­sions, while chil­dren 15 and un­der at date of match get in for free.

Pic­tures: ZAK SIM­MONDS

LEAD­ING FROM THE FRONT: Eng­land cap­tain Alas­tair Cook feeds a croc­o­dile at Bil­l­abong Sanc­tu­ary yes­ter­day.

Cook pho­to­graphs a koala.

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