(BBC) Skipper Andrew Strauss hit 120 not out as England beat Western Australia by six wickets in their opening three-day warm-up game yesterday ahead of the Ashes series.
The Middlesex batsman’s 141-ball knock featured a six and 15 fours as he led his side home on 243-4 in Perth.
England’s only concern was a second failure for Alastair Cook, who fell for nine after they had bowled out the state side for 223.
Spinner Graeme Swann was the tourists’ most successful bowler, with 4-101.
“We’re very pleased, especially because of the position of the game at start of play,” said Strauss.
“It was looking like a tough ask to force a result from there. But we had two choices. We could have come here and gone through the motions – but what we did was come in and hit the ground running. Steven [Finn] bowled an outstanding spell right from the start and we got some momentum. Steven was rusty in the first innings, but got better as it went on.
“James Anderson and Stuart Broad were spot on in that first innings. But Finny really set the tone today, consistent length-wise and caused all the batsmen some trouble.
“We’re delighted with the way the bowlers bowled, and it was a good effort from the batters to chase down that score.”
Developing a winning habit early in the tour was one of England’s goals on arriving in Australia and the manner in which they went about their run-chase at the Waca Ground was a reflection of the confidence within the camp.
After Cook’s early dismissal, bowled by Michael Hogan after planting his front foot down the track and shaping to play the ball to leg, Strauss took charge and was well supported by the other members of the top order.
The 33-year-old England captain shared stands of 65, 66 and 54 with Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood – before he and Ian Bell, who finished with 22 not out, knocked off the remaining runs.
Trott was caught behind down the leg side for 23 off the last ball before tea, Pietersen fell leg before wicket for 35 when he attempted a reverse sweep and only Collingwood, who was caught for 26, did not look comfortable at the crease.
Strauss, meanwhile, was particularly strong on the back foot, relishing the chance to pull anything dropped short, but he brought up his century with a straight drive off spinner Michael Swart. Strauss is certain to be targeted by Australia’s attack when the Ashes series begins in Brisbane on 25 November, so his innings was an important signal of intent.
England also bowled well earlier in the day, picking up nine wickets for 114 runs after Western Australia had resumed on 109-1.
There were two dropped catches – Bell failing to hold an early chance offered by Swart at gully and Collingwood putting down Luke Pomersbach at slip – but that did not take any gloss off the overall performance.
And England were especially delighted to get rid of Marcus North, the only member of Australia’s Test side involved in the match, for a single, run out by substitute Eoin Morgan after being called for a sharp single by partner Adam Voges.
Opener Wes Robinson made his second half-century of the match for the home side, but soon after was lured forward by Swann and stumped by Matt Prior for 54.
Swann also removed the aggressive middle-order pair of Pomersbach and Luke Ronchi before adding the wicket of Michael Beer, but he was not amused by being hit over the top three times by last man Hogan, who made 21 off 12 balls before running himself out. Strauss added: “It’s important we play well and win as many of these games as possible, it’s also important that batsmen get used to the conditions.
“The best way to do that is by spending a lot of time in the middle. It was satisfying to get a hundred and see the guys home, but I’m sure there are sterner tests ahead.”