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Slow pitch a pain for England

England were left rueing an unexpectedly sluggish surface after the first day of their Ashes tour.

The WACA belied its reputation as a pace-bowler’s paradise as England’s trio of giant seamers were repelled by a Western Australia Chairman’s XI, who chose to bat and compiled 369 for four by the close of play.

Chris Lynn, a guest from Queensland, hit 104 to go with three other individual half-centuries from Western Australia's own current second-string batsmen.

England's seamers had been tuning up in the pacy WACA Ground nets for the past week and, with their three tall men given an immediate opportunity to impress alongside James Anderson, were doubtless expecting to soon have the ball whistling round their hosts' ears.

That, however, was not how it worked out as Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn conceded almost 250 runs between them for a solitary wicket.

Afterwards Tremlett admitted England had perhaps been guilty of making some assumptions for this three-day match, saying: “The pitch wasn't quite what we expected, from what it was last time.”

More unpalatable still perhaps, the word from the home camp is that little is likely to change for the Test match here in December.

The new WACA, according to opener Marcus Harris, is a distant relation to the searing strips from years not so long gone by.

Chris Tremlett conceded that the first day of England's Ashes tour was frustrating as a WA Chairman's XI piled on the runs

Luke Towers and Harris shared a century opening stand, before Lynn took over - and then Mitch Marsh cashed in too for good measure, as Anderson and Rankin were the only frontline bowlers to take even one wicket.

Marsh, son of Geoff who had Ashes successes against England as both a player and coach, was diplomatically equivocal about the opposition bowling when invited to assess their first efforts of 2013/14.

"They've come here after not having cricket for two-and-a-half months," he said. "I'm sure they came here with a plan. Whether or not they stuck to that, I'm not (so) sure."

Tremlett's self-analysis was measured, but honest.

"It was a frustrating day as a unit. We were pretty inconsistent," he said. “I thought we all showed some good signs at times, but I think we were all a little bit rusty. We struggled with our lengths."

Conditions played their part, yet England know they will have to think on their feet if they are to retain the Ashes won again on home soil only two months ago.

"It was pretty slow - not what we were expecting compared to what the net conditions have been like the last couple of days," Tremlett added.

"But I guess that's no excuse really. It's about adjusting to conditions quickly. It's down to a bit of rustiness."

There will be no panic yet among the tourists. They made a point at the start of their successful tour in 2010/11 of treating none of their warm-up matches as auditions, and duly remained unbeaten until they returned to Perth already 1-0 up after two Tests.

England know nonetheless that it is what happens from ball one in Brisbane that really matters.

"I don't think we're concerned," said Tremlett. "It's the first day, a massive jump in workloads for all of us ... if you're bowling badly a few days before the (first) Test, that's when you're going to be panicking a little bit."

To achieve the desired improvement, Tremlett cites the example set already by Anderson as one he and others must follow.

"I thought Jimmy was outstanding today, and showed his class really," he said. "We can certainly learn from him.

“We all had some good spells at times. But the overall picture, we were a little bit off the radar. The first day is always the hardest."

England can only hope Tremlett's words are born out as they set their sights on a fourth successive Ashes series victory, for the first time since WG Grace was still setting the agenda back in the 19th century.

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