Lions kept in check
Nick Compton and skipper Eoin Morgan prospered with the bat, but England Lions were made to work hard for their runs on day one of their opening first-class match against Australia A.
The hosts reached stumps on 140 for four from 66 overs after rain had wiped out the morning’s play at Old Trafford.
They were grateful to the efforts of Compton and Morgan, who mustered 46 and 50 respectively on a slow wicket after the latter had elected to bat first.
Openers Compton and Joe Root were given a torrid time by Australia A’s new-ball pairing of Jackson Bird and Mitchell Johnson, a man boasting 183 international caps across all forms of the game.
It was Johnson who struck first in the eighth over when he had Root caught behind off the glove from a lifting delivery.
Compton and Morgan dug in thereafter and added 79 before the Somerset man was beaten in the flight by off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who claimed a simple return catch.
Jonny Bairstow - one of four players in the Lions line-up with Test experience - joined Morgan and saw his skipper bring up a patient 119-ball fifty with a cut off Bird.
Bairstow edged Lyon through to wicketkeeper Tim Paine soon after and Morgan fell in the next over, caught at mid-on after getting a leading edge off the impressive Johnson, who ended the day with 2-23.
Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel saw out the remainder of the day and will hope to extend their partnership of 26 on day two.
The Lions were without Ravi Bopara for this game, the first of two first-class encounters against Australia’s second string.
Bopara, who had been added to the squad on Sunday, was not available due to the personal reasons that prevented him from featuring in the second Investec Test between England and South Africa.
"I thought I was ready to return to action but, after some consideration, I just feel it's too early so won't be playing quite yet,” explained the Essex batsman.