Bresnan builds on Bell's good work
England enjoyed another prosperous day with bat and ball as they closed in on victory over Australia A in their last tour match before the Ashes.
A dominant batting display in Hobart saw the tourists convert their overnight 335 for five into a mammoth 523 - of which Ian Bell made 192 - and establish a first-innings lead of 293.
Bell’s splendid innings was one of several encouraging performances on a day that ended with Australia A 128 for three - still a distant 165 in arrears.
Tim Bresnan was the chief architect behind their faltering second-innings effort, removing Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja with successive deliveries during a fine spell after tea which yielded three wickets in 20 balls.
His aggressive off-stump line was perfectly suited to a pitch which, though offering less sideways assistance to the seamers compared to the first day, became increasingly unreliable in terms of bounce.
There was no better example than the dismissal of Callum Ferguson, who was bowled by one that kept low. It capped a fine day for Bresnan after he contributed 36 to a lower-order flurry that deepened Australia A’s misery.
Paul Collingwood fell narrowly short of three figures this morning, Matt Prior played breezily for his 27 and Ajmal Shahzad and Chris Tremlett enjoyed fleeting opportunities with the bat as England underlined their almost total dominance over Australia’s second-string side.
Tremlett bowled with hostility yet no success either side of tea, Shahzad charged in with typical gusto and Monty Panesar was unfortunate not to gain any tangible reward for two probing spells.
Although Phil Hughes, with an unbeaten 58, and Cameron White saw Australia A to the close without further mishap after Ferguson’s departure, an accomplished England side missing their four frontline bowlers can be rightly satisfied with their day’s work.
Indeed, assuming they complete an expected victory tomorrow, their preparations for the first Test in Brisbane next week can hardly have gone better.
Bresnan’s early-evening burst served as a timely reminder to the selectors of his worth ahead of the series opener.
If the wicket of Cowan, who played on for 33 as he attempted to pull, was a touch fortuitous, the delivery which accounted for Khawaja first ball - a beauty that angled in from round the wicket, held its line and took the outside edge - was seam bowling at its best.
Hughes, another left-hander, batted with a combination of impishness and orthodoxy either side of edging Panesar through Collingwood’s right hand at slip when he had made 32.
Bresnan, however, sneaked one through Ferguson’s defensive stroke moments later, and it said much for England’s state of mind that they were disappointed not to make further inroads in the remaining 15 overs.
The first half of the day was notable for Bell’s progression from his overnight 121 to within sight of a maiden double century in an England shirt.
The sixth-wicket stand was worth 240 and had spanned more than 60 overs by the time it was broken an hour into the day, Collingwood bottom-edging a pull off Clint McKay to wicketkeeper Tim Paine two balls after being hit on the helmet by a bouncer. That they came together yesterday with England tottering on 137 for five should not be forgotten.
Prior’s cameo contained a handful of sumptuous drives through the off side which matched anything Bell produced this morning, but aggression proved to his undoing when, on the charge, he sliced the much improved Steven Smith to point.
Less fluent than yesterday, Bell was nonetheless untroubled in bringing up his 150, off 213 balls, by steering Peter George coolly over the slips for four.
He received more than able support from Bresnan during an eighth-wicket alliance of 80, before driving Smith, operating from round the wicket, to Cowan at short cover. He had faced 275 balls and hit 22 fours and a six in almost six hours at the crease.
Bresnan fell moments later, losing his footing attempting to sweep Steve O’Keefe and adjudged lbw as he picked himself up off the floor.
Shahzad drove Smith for six and four in an over to deepen Australia A’s misery, and Tremlett swung O’Keefe for successive leg-side boundaries before he miscued a drive to mid-off to give the left-arm spinner commendable figures of 4-88.