England Ashes warm-up descends into near-farce

(Reuters) – England’s pre-Ashes warm-up game against Essex was stripped of its first-class status after the county’s injury-hit attack had to be bolstered by England’s 12th man, Boyd Rankin.

After dismissing Essex for 278 in their first innings early on the third day of the four-day match, England’s second innings descended into near-farce.

Essex opening bowlers David Masters and Tymal Mills were injured and could not bowl.

Eight bowlers were used in the innings including Rankin and Reece Topley, an Essex player not included in the county’s original team.

England captain Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott had found scoring so easy that they retired as they approached their centuries to give team mates batting practice.

Aaron Beard, a 15-year-old member of Essex’s academy, benefited from the injuries by being called up to field. England ended a rain-affected day on 217 for three, a lead of 352.

The change in the match’s status following the inclusion of Rankin and Topley means bowler Tim Bresnan’s unbeaten first-innings century will not be part of his first-class record.

England play Australia in the first Ashes Test, starting on July 10, and the touring side received a boost when their new opening partnership of Shane Watson and Chris Rogers put on 170 for the first wicket against Worcestershire.

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