Key duo into their groove

Centuries from Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott were the big positives on the final day of England’s drawn tour match versus a WA Chairman’s XI.

Bell and Trott, with 115 and 113 not out, prospered on another fine morning before the tourists lost quick wickets either side of lunch to be dismissed for 391, a 60-run deficit.

The hosts then batted out 39 more overs, to the tune of 168 for five declared, so that the inevitable draw could be confirmed at the WACA.

England at least had the opportunity to again assess the merits of their three tall seamers, Boyd Rankin emerging marginally – certainly not head and shoulders – above Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn.

The other obviously undecided position for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane is at number six and, after Gary Ballance and Ben Stokes mustered only four runs between them, Michael Carberry appeared to steal a march following yesterday’s 78.

All seemed to be going to plan in England’s reply by the time Bell retired out to end his third-wicket stand of 193 with Trott.

But England then lost their last seven wickets for 57 runs, Jim Allenby picking up 4-58, as a remarkable run of nine 50s or better from 11 individual innings in this match was replaced by a procession of single-figure scores.

Batsman error, rather than exaggerated deterioration of the pitch or dramatic improvement in the bowling, appeared to be the common denominator as England were dismissed. Their hosts subsequently stumbled to 24 for two before Mitchell Marsh and Chris Lynn, who hit 62 and 61 not out, dug in.

There was no hint of what was to follow when Bell was in situ. But in the space of four overs, three more batsmen came and went for the addition of 13 runs.

After Bell reached a chanceless hundred, including 17 fours and two sixes from 153 balls, the time was judged right to give others a chance to see what they could do against the second new ball.

Sadly for Ballance, it was the minimum, as he edged a useful delivery behind from Ryan Duffield for a golden duck.

Matt Prior clumped a pull high over the in-field for four before edging a drive behind for Duffield’s second wicket in the over.

Stokes managed a boundary too, down the ground off Allenby, who got his revenge when the left-hander became a third consecutive caught-behind departure, edging an attempted cut.

Trott remained a reassuring presence, grinding out his century from exactly 200 balls having hit 10 fours and a six that was muscled over cow corner off a Michael Beer full toss.

England, though, subsequently subsided slowly as the tail folded at the other end to Beer and Allenby, who claimed 4-58.

Home openers Luke Towers and Marcus Harris had set the tone two days ago with a stand of 115. But this time both fell cheaply to Rankin, Towers caught at third slip and Harris lbw playing no shot to one that kept low after hitting a crack.

With Test linchpin James Anderson spared any unnecessary second-innings exertions, change bowlers Finn and Stokes might also each have had an early wicket – but Lynn was dropped on 12 by Rankin diving to his left at mid-on off the former and then on 19 by Joe Root high to his right at second slip.

Finn eventually got his second and third wickets of the match, Marsh lbw and Tom Triffitt caught-behind in the same over.

They had come at the cost of 165 runs by then, and when Tremlett struck for the first time – Ashton Turner lbw pushing forward round his pad – he too had three figures in the penultimate column.

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