England’s preparations for the Ashes in Australia got under way on Tuesday with an inter-squad warm-up game against England Lions in Brisbane, finishing with both openers still at the crease.
Haseeb Hameed (53 not out) and Rory Burns (39 not out) had taken England to 98 without loss before play was halted early in the second session at Wellington Point because of rain.
The early finish meant Ben Stokes’ return to action was delayed, with the 30-year-old due to bat at No 5 not having featured for England since July. Stokes took an indefinite break from all cricket to prioritise his mental wellbeing, and was a late addition to England’s Ashes squad after surgery on a fractured finger that had failed to heal properly.
For the Lions, Matt Parkinson sent down three overs in the rain-shortened first day and will be hoping for a better chance to press his case for a possible step up into the main Ashes squad as preparations continue with a four-day clash next week.
With no wrist-spinner in Joe Root’s 17-strong party, the big-turning Lancashire bowler has everything to play for. There are plenty of England fans who would be happy to see him in the England squad for the series opener at The Gabba, particularly if the social media reaction to his initial omission is any indication.
“I guess I was slightly gutted not to get into the Ashes squad, but Twitter was funny that day … it felt like I was pretty popular for a while on there,” Parkinson said. “You do take it with a pinch of salt. I’m pleased to be out with the Lions but hopefully I can stay on.”
“I’m not ruling it out and I think all of the lads would say the same,” the 25-year-old added. “The door is open and if we perform well in these matches, score a hundred, take a five-for … who knows?”
“Rooty has seen plenty of me because I bowled about 3,000 balls to him in the nets in India last winter. I’d like to show Joe [and the head coach, Chris Silverwood] that I’ve improved this year so they think ‘let’s keep him here’.”
Shane Warne is among those fighting Parkinson’s corner, but the English Test side’s thin recent record with leg-spin acts as counterweight to that buzz. “I don’t even know if Shane Warne has seen me bowl with a red ball, but it’s nice to see the press I’ve had from him,” Parkinson said.
“He was a superstar and everyone wants their own version. English people want leg-spinners to play Test cricket too … but there’s a disconnect. Maybe it would be easier now for me and Mason Crane if someone had come along and done consistently well.”