Hameed hits unbeaten 53 as England begin Ashes warm-ups

By: AFP
Published: 09:39 AM, 24 Nov, 2021
Hameed hits unbeaten 53 as England begin Ashes warm-ups
Caption: File photo of Hameed.
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Haseeb Hameed hit an unbeaten 53 and Rory Burns 39 as England began their Ashes tour in a low-key and rain-hit intra-squad warm-up game Tuesday, played against the backdrop of a racism scandal back home.

Test superstars Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes were among the first wave of players to land in Brisbane on November 6 with their Twenty20 World Cup contingent jetting in later.

They have completed 14 days quarantine at a Gold Coast resort and experienced their first real taste of Australian conditions in the informal three-day game against England Lions at Peter Burge Oval.

But rain restricted the opening day to just 29 overs.

Hameed struck eight boundaries and Burns found the ropes four times as an England XI made 98 without loss after winning the toss and opting to bat

Zak Crawley is scheduled to come in at three followed by skipper Root, Stokes then Ollie Pope.

While Broad was on the team sheet, his veteran fast-bowling partner Anderson was not.

Other absent Ashes squad members included Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Mark Wood, who all played at the T20 World Cup.

The five-Test tour got under way amid a growing racism scandal surrounding the treatment of Root's former Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq.

Pakistan-born Rafiq told a parliamentary inquiry this month how racist language was "constantly" used during his two spells at the county club. 

He made several allegations against high-profile individuals, including former England players Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard and Alex Hales.

In comments from England's Gold Coast base on November 12, Root demanded change but claimed he had not witnessed racist incidents during his time at Yorkshire.

He has not spoken publicly since and there have been no media opportunities with the England squad.

Australia have their own problems heading into the first Test at Brisbane on December 8 -- Tim Paine quit as captain last week over a sexting scandal. Pat Cummins or Steve Smith is expected to take the reins.

England are due to play a second three-day, intra-squad warm-up from November 30, while the Australians  have their own fixture from December 1 -- the only red-ball preparations for either side ahead of the opening Test.

Harris says Paine should play in Ashes

Tim Paine has the full support of the Australian team and deserves to keep his place for the first Ashes Test against England, opener Marcus Harris said Wednesday.

Paine suddenly quit as Test captain last week over a series of lewd text messages with a female colleague in 2017 that were about to be made public.

Harris said the news came as a shock to the playing group who only learned about it 30 minutes before the official announcement.

But he backed Paine to come through the scandal and said he deserved to play in the opening Test at Brisbane on December 8 on his wicketkeeping abilities alone.

"Yes, absolutely," Harris, who is expected to open the innings with David Warner, said when asked if he should be in the starting eleven.

"He's done a really good job in the last few years under tough circumstances, and I think you can still probably argue that he's the best gloveman in the country.

"I know he's got the support of all the players," he added, with most of them personally contacting Paine in the wake of the scandal.

"Obviously Painey is a very popular member of the group, and he was as skipper as well. So we're looking forward to him getting up here in the next week or so and getting on with cricket."

The 36-year-old Paine has made it clear he still wants to play for Australia with selectors needing to decide whether to cut him loose and start afresh or show loyalty.

Working against him is a lack of match practice after surgery in September for neck pain.

He made his return for Tasmania's second XI on Monday, grabbing six catches, but was then out for a second ball duck. If he is overlooked, Alex Carey is expected to get the nod.

Harris wouldn't be drawn on who should be the next captain, with Pat Cummins and Steve Smith seen as the frontrunners.

A five-person panel will make the decision, but it reportedly won't include coach Justin Langer who has been told to focus on preparing the team.

Instead the job will fall to selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide, Cricket Australia board member Mel Jones, chief executive Nick Hockley and chairman Richard Freudenstein.

The diminutive Harris -- currently in quarantine on Australia's Gold Coast -- is in the squad after another concussion injury to Will Pucovski and is determined to grab the opportunity after a poor 2019 Ashes campaign.

He averaged just 9.66 from his three Tests in England, but he has revamped his technique, leading to a productive season with Leicestershire.

"It was obviously a tough first Test series over in England for myself," said Harris, who has played 10 Tests so far, all with Paine as skipper.

"But I've had plenty of time since then to work on a few things. The proof will be in the pudding come December."

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.