Ashes 2017-18: Time in the dirt pays dividends as Ball assumes position

England head coach Trevor Bayliss
England head coach Trevor Bayliss
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England managed a solitary wicket all day in their final match action before the Ashes, but still earned the praise of coach Trevor Bayliss.

Rookie batsmen Jason Sangha (133) and his Cricket Australia XI captain Matt Short (134no) shut England out for 75 overs in all, putting on a remarkable 263 together, as the inexperienced hosts racked up 364-4 on a flat pitch.

England's Jake Ball

England's Jake Ball

Joe Root’s attack had no answer, and the only wicket they could muster – 18-year-old Sangha’s, caught sweeping off his 226th ball – fell to Mason Crane, the bowler least likely of all to be involved in next week’s first Test in Brisbane.

Nonetheless, reflecting on the stalemate at the Tony Ireland Stadium as well as a resounding victory over the same opponents in Adelaide last week and another draw against a Western Australia XI in Perth, Bayliss pronounced himself satisfied with England’s warm-up campaign.

“Over the three games we have got about as much as we possibly could,” he said, reasoning that even their unsuccessful last day in Townsville could end up being beneficial when the going inevitably gets tough at some point over the next eight weeks.

“Today wasn’t the perfect game of cricket for us.

I thought Ball was our best bowler in Perth, and he started off that way again in Adelaide too. He’s fine now, bowled yesterday, got through a few spells in the nets today – and now he’s bowling again [in middle practice after the early close].

Trevor Bayliss on Jake Ball

“But it’s time in the dirt, and we will probably have another one or two of them in the Test matches.

“It was probably good to experience it, and the heat as well.”

After Craig Overton’s travails in Townsville, where he recorded match figures of 2-97 and registered his third successive duck on tour, fit-again Jake Ball appears to have moved back ahead of him as England’s probable fourth seamer at the Gabba.

Bayliss said: “I thought Ball was our best bowler in Perth, and he started off that way again in Adelaide too. He’s fine now, bowled yesterday, got through a few spells in the nets today – and now he’s bowling again [in middle practice after the early close].

“He should be fit and raring to go.”

Whoever gets the nod next week, Bayliss is promising England’s approach will be a positive one.

“Australia like to hit the opposition hard early,” he said. “We have been talking about going hard ourselves – we are not here to make up the numbers, we are here to win. We’re very confident.”

Katherine Brunt wishes England had managed to replicate yesterday’s performance when the Women’s Ashes series was still alive. Brunt made key contributions with bat and ball in Canberra as England won the second Twenty20 by 40 runs against Australia, who retained the urn with victory in the opening T20 of the multi-format series.

England will level the series at 8-8 if they win Tuesday’s final match – a third T20 – and while it would not prevent Australia keeping the urn, Brunt is hoping they can end the tour in style.

“It’s a shame we brought one of our best games today and not the other day, but hopefully we can still level the series,” said the 32-year-old from Barnsley.

“If it’s equal points, that’s a good finish and what we’re striving for now. We’ve done really well to pick ourselves up because it was really bitter the other day, we’re still feeling it and it still hurts.”