|Tour match, Townsville (day one of four)|
|Cricket Australia XI 249-9: Short 51, Woakes 6-54, Overton 2-32|
|England: Yet to bat|
Chris Woakes took six wickets as England were made to field all day by a Cricket Australia XI in their final Ashes warm-up match.
Woakes (6-54) took four wickets for eight runs either side of lunch to help reduce CA XI to 118-5, but the hosts stubbornly reached 249-9 at the close.
England dropped three catches and their bowlers sometimes struggled with length on day one of the four-day match.
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow was absent for an hour after a blow to the finger.
He was replaced by Ben Foakes, who was summoned from the nets and took a catch within two overs of coming on.
Bairstow was eventually able to resume after only suffering bruising to the middle finger of his left hand.
Meanwhile, Jake Ball, who sprained his ankle last week, and James Anderson, struck down by illness on Tuesday, both returned to bowling in the nets.
The right preparation?
A slow Townsville surface, following a similarly sluggish pitch in Adelaide in the previous game, does not seem ideal preparation for the pace and bounce that England will face in the first Test in Brisbane next week.
“It’s slow in pace and you would imagine that a Test wicket would be quicker than that,” said Woakes after the match.
Not only that, but the hosts have only played 75 first-class matches between them and are almost identical to the side bowled out for 75 last week.
England, asked to field after losing the toss, improved as the day progressed after spin pair Mason Crane and Moeen Ali were guilty of poor length during the morning session.
Crane was hindered by two dropped catches, a difficult chance to a leaping Mark Stoneman at point and a straightforward one to Joe Root at slip both reprieving home captain Matthew Short, who made 51.
A diving Bairstow also missed an opportunity when Woakes found the edge of Simon Milenko’s bat.
Despite the slow surface, Woakes bowled with pace and found success by pitching the ball up and moving it off the seam.
Openers Nick Larkin and Jake Carder shared a stand of 66 before Woakes switched ends to have Carder well held at gully by James Vince and Larkin caught behind.
When Ryan Gibson was bowled and Jason Sangha trapped lbw, Woakes had taken 4-8 in 22 balls either side of lunch.
Craig Overton, looking to earn a Test debut, found the edge of Will Pucovski and the hosts were in danger of subsiding.
They were steadied by Short, who played nicely off the back foot until he edged Overton to second slip.
Woakes returned with the second new ball to bowl Milenko, while Vince took another smart catch at gully to remove Gurinder Sandhu and give Stuart Broad his only wicket of the day, and his second of the tour.
Daniel Fallins plundered 16 runs off the final over the day, leaving Crane with figures of 0-87 from his 22 overs.
“It’s nice to get wickets in any game. A week away from the first Test, it’s nice to hit a bit of form,” said Woakes.
“I felt that it came out nicely today, which gives me a little bit of confidence. I’ll continue to work and hopefully be ready for next week.”
A taste of things to come?
England were greeted by a healthy crowd in northern Queensland, with queues outside the ground lasting long into the morning.
As the day wore on, the locals became keener to remind the tourists of the absence of Ben Stokes, who has not travelled to Australia after being arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm.
While Stokes awaits the findings of a police investigation, this was a small taste of the treatment can expect from a partisan and vocal crowd in Brisbane.
It was also a hint towards what would await Stokes if he does eventually join the tour.
“You expect a little bit of heckling from the crowd when you’re in Australia,” said Woakes. “Australia get it when they are in England, so we have to expect to get a little bit back.
“It’s part and parcel of the tour and we have to deal with it. We dealt with it well today, but I’m sure it will go up a notch at the Gabba.”