Ashes: Mark Stoneman hits England’s first century of tour as Alastair Cook makes 50

Robert Piggott CofE infant school
Mark Stoneman (right) is Alastair Cook’s 12th opening partner since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012
Tour match, Townsville (day two of four)
Cricket Australia XI 250: Short 51, Woakes 6-55, Overton 2-32
England 337-3: Stoneman 111, Cook 70, Fallins 2-71
England lead by 87 runs
Scorecard

Mark Stoneman struck England’s first century of the Ashes tour on the second day of their final warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI in Townsville.

Opener Stoneman made 111 to help the tourists to 337-3, a lead of 87.

He shared a stand of 172 with Alastair Cook, who found some form with 70 before the first Test next week.

Joe Root added an unbeaten 62 and Dawid Malan was 57 not out, but James Vince fell for 26.

England could bat long into Friday in order to give Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes the opportunity of time in the middle.

And while the visitors can be pleased with their efforts, the caveat is that the placid Townsville surface and inexperience of the CA XI attack is much different to the pace and hostility they are likely to face during the Ashes curtain-raiser in Brisbane.

“It’s not the bowling attack we are going to face next week,” Stoneman told BBC Sport. “It’s below that level, but it’s what we have in front of us and that’s all you can play.”

The tourists earlier needed only eight deliveries to wrap up the hosts’ first innings for 250, Stuart Broad producing a vicious bouncer to have Harry Conway well caught by Stoneman at short leg.

Australia name their squad for the first Test at 00:00 GMT on Friday.

Stoneman answers call

England managed nine half-centuries in the previous two warm-up games, but the lack of a century led to both captain Root and coach Trevor Bayliss to call on the batsmen to make bigger scores.

Stoneman, who has an Australian wife, responded by converting his fourth half-century in as many innings into a 21st first-class hundred.

“It’s very pleasing to get three figures after the starts I’ve had on the tour,” said Stoneman “It’s another level of progression, which is what is required so close to the first Test.

“I’m in decent touch. Everyone has been critical of the opposition we have faced, but I’m fairly happy.”

The Surrey left-hander looked fluent from the moment he arrived at the crease, playing clips off his toes, cuts and handsome straight drives.

He gave one chance on 41, when a cut at gully off the pace bowling of Simon Milenko was dropped by Nick Larkin.

Stoneman slowed when the hosts turned to spin and increasingly favoured the leg side, reaching three figures with a turn off the hip from the lively bowling of Conway.

He eventually chipped a return catch to leg-spinner Daniel Fallins, lingering for a moment in the disappointment of missing out on an even bigger score.

Cook’s welcome runs

Alastair Cook made scores of 243, 11, 23, 10 and 17 in England’s last Test series

England’s 2010-11 series win, their only success in Australia since 1986-87, was built on Cook’s 766 runs.

Prior to this knock, the former captain had made only 47 runs in three innings on tour and had not passed 50 in any cricket since the first Test against West Indies in August.

In the Queensland heat he returned to form with characteristic accumulation – tucks off the pads and the occasional prod through the off side.

His 127-ball stay included only five boundaries and, like Stoneman, the fortune of a dropped catch. Gurinder Sandhu put down a tough caught-and-bowled opportunity when Cook was on 40.

Such was England’s untroubled progress, it was a surprise when a Cook cut at off-spinner Matthew Short resulted in an edge behind.

Vince misses out

Vince was the surprise inclusion in England’s Ashes squad and though he made 82 in the first tour game in Perth, the second match in Adelaide was a microcosm of his seven-Test career – dismissed for 33 and 29 after getting starts.

This was no different, even if he showed visible displeasure at being given out caught at short leg off Fallins.

Vince appeared to think the catch was a bump-ball, but replays seemed to vindicate the decision of the umpires.

“From my end, it looked like he was expecting a yorker and he jammed the bat down a bit early,” said Stoneman. “I thought it was probably out, but if you’re not sure you make the umpires make the decision.”

Stoneman fell soon after, leaving Root to register his second half-century of the tour and Malan his third in an unbroken partnership of 120.

Facing the most gentle bowling of the day, the fourth-wicket pair never threatened to take the attack apart, enjoying what was little more than a glorified net.

James Vince averages 19.27 in Test cricket for England after seven matches

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