Root and Anderson shine amid showers
Joe Root registered an unbeaten half-century in tricky batting conditions, which James Anderson exploited with two wickets as England drew against Australia A on another rain-hit day at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval.
Showers meant just two overs were possible before lunch, but Root prospered in the afternoon until the tourists declared at tea on 430 for seven.
Anderson then struck twice and Graeme Swann once as the hosts reached 119 for three in their first innings, throughout which Root kept wicket with Matt Prior off the field due to a tight left calf. After play England team director Andy Flower said Prior will have a scan on the calf but is expected to be fit for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane from November 21.
Following last week’s draw with a Western Australia Chairman’s XI in Perth and this result, England now have one more tour match - next week versus an Australia Invitational XI at Sydney - ahead of the Ashes opener.
Having shared an unbroken 318 on day one ahead of two washed out days, Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry retired out on 154 and 153 respectively this morning to allow their team-mates time in the middle.
Only Root was able to maximise this with his 58 not out, although Prior occupied the crease for more than an hour in making 26.
Anderson and Chris Tremlett were England’s most impressive bowlers, the former returning 2-20 from seven overs and Tremlett also going at less than three an over.
Anderson ousted Alex Doolan for 31, beating his defence and clipping the off bail, and had Usman Khawaja caught behind by Root in his next over.
After a brief rain delay, Swann, having his first bowl of the tour, trapped Michael Klinger lbw on the back foot for 29 with a ball that turned and kept low.
Shaun Marsh and Callum Ferguson then batted through to stumps, ending with 27 and 15 respectively.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Gary Ballance were dismissed in single figures in awkward batting conditions after the pitch had spent more than two days under cover.
As on the first day, when Cook and Carberry batted well against the new ball and Australia A's seamers perhaps did not find a testing length quickly enough, there was sideways movement off the seam.
There was also variable bounce, and it was a combination of the two that cost Pietersen his wicket in his first innings of the tour.
He got off the mark with a clip off his legs off Trent Copeland and added an authoritative drive past mid-off from Ben Cutting's last delivery before rain wiped out the remainder of the morning session.
But then in the first over after the resumption, pushing well forward and typically slightly round his pad, Pietersen was given no chance by a delivery from Copeland which nipped into him and kept devilishly low to see him off lbw.
Trott got a thin edge behind, pushing forward to a useful ball from Cutting, and then Ballance got stuck on the crease and was trapped in front by the same bowler.
Root was set up by a clutch of early deliveries in his favoured scoring area, behind square on the off side. But he had to work hard too, as did Prior - batting conservatively against type here to try get a foothold for the winter ahead.
Root had one moment of fortune, surviving a confident appeal for lbw by Cutting on 14, but was otherwise assured on his way to an 85-ball fifty as he demonstrated he is at home in the middle order as at the top - where England in this match deployed Carberry instead.
Prior missed a sweep and was lbw to Jon Holland, and there was time before tea for Stuart Broad to hit the left-arm spinner for a big six over long-on and then be very well caught by a diving Khawaja as he tried to clear the rope again but instead merely ended the England innings.
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