England’s Chris Woakes continued his good form with 6-54 on a slow pitch against a Cricket Australia XI who finished day one on 249-9.
Given the new cherry in James Anderson’s absence, Woakes claimed the wickets of Australia XI’s top three, Nick Larkin (30), James Carder (39) and Ryan Gibson (7), before claiming three further scalps.
Brisbane will deliver a much stiffer test, but Woakes is emerging as a vital component of England’s Ashes armoury, augmented in part by a lengthy injury list and their reliance on two thirty-somethings, Stuart Broad and Anderson.
It is likely a fit Woakes would have featured in Brisbane regardless of such absentees, including Ben Stokes, and England will need him to contribute useful lower-order runs as they struggle to replace their talismanic all-rounder.
One concern, however, is that the Warwickshire bowler’s away record falls comfortably short of his impressive stats in English conditions. He has 42 Test wickets at a cost of 24.28 apiece on home soil, compared with eight Test wickets abroad at 63.75. The signs are positive that he’ll reduce that average during this series – he’s been getting good movement with the Kookaburra ball on this tour so far.
Captain Matthew Short’s 51 was the highlight of Australia XI’s innings, while Stuart Broad, Craig Overton, Moeen Ali and Mason Crane all got valuable overs under their belts.
Joe Root and the rest of the England camp will be delighted that Ali got through his fitness test (0-39 off 16), but it was Overton and Broad who did the other damage, with 2-32 and 1-33 respectively.
Rookie leg-spinner Crane was the most expensive of the bowlers, with an economy rate of 3.95, and he’s likely to make way for Anderson in Brisbane. The 34-year-old sat out here due to illness, but has bowled in the nets, while Jake Ball is back running and also had a gentle bowl as he steps up his recovery from strained ankle ligaments.