Hameed make fifty as Stokes’ return delayed by rain


The England vs England Lions three-day match is Stokes’ first game of cricket since July

England 0 for 98 (Hameed 53*, Burns 39*) vs England Lions

Rain and some impressive batting from England’s openers delayed Ben Stokes‘ low-profile return to cricket before next month’s Ashes opener at the Gabba.

The England allrounder arrived at Peter Burge Oval in the Brisbane seaside suburb of Wellington Point on Tuesday with Test team-mates Joe Root, Stuart Broad and James Anderson.

The England vs England Lions three-day match is Stokes’ first game of cricket since July, when he opted to take an indefinite break to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

Only a smattering of curious spectators gathered at Redlands Cricket Club to watch the tourists in their first of two warm-up games in the lead-up to the five-Test series against Australia.

Rain delayed play and then, after England’s opening pair Rory Burns (38 not out) and Haseeb Hameed (53 not out) had taken them to 0 for 98, brought an early end to proceedings one over into the second session.

Stokes, who is due to bat at No.5 behind captain Root, looked limber as he spent the lunch break bowling off his full run-up on the centre square.

Groundsman Chris Hepburn said while the wicket was “hard and firm” despite the recent wet weather, it was not as flat as the impressive pair had made it appear in a commanding first-wicket partnership.

He said there would likely be more life in the wicket next week, with the Australian camp asking for conditions that closely resemble the Gabba strip for their intra-squad hit-out.

That three-day game, from December 1-3, will be the final chance for Tim Paine, Alex Carey, Travis Head and Usman Khawaja to state their case for selection in the first Test from December 8.

Initially left out of England’s touring squad, Stokes was later included in a massive boost to the tourists’ chances of winning back the Ashes.
Stokes, who last played a Test match in India in March, had only recently returned to fitness after surgery on a finger injury before stepping away again.

He missed a majority of last year’s Test series against Pakistan to be in New Zealand with his father, who died in December.

Anderson, 39, warmed up with the squad but has not been named to play in the warm-up fixture.

Those members of the Ashes touring party that competed in the T20 World Cup campaign remain in quarantine on the Gold Coast for another week.

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