Hobart: Chris Tremlett claimed four wickets as England bowled out the cream of Australia’s best young talent for 230 on the opening day of their four-day game at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval.
Tremlett on Wednesday took 4-54 off 17.1 overs and Ajmal Shahzad 3-57 from 21 overs as England’s second-choice bowlers got their turn after the tourists’ first string were sent to Brisbane ahead of the opening Ashes Test there on November 25.
Australia A hit back late on the first day to claim the wicket of England skipper Andrew Strauss for 10 to leave the tourists 22 for one at stumps.
Alastair Cook was 10 not out with nightwatchman Monty Panesar on two.
England smashed through Australia A’s top order after winning the toss on a conducive pitch and had them reeling at 58 for four before late resistance from Steve Smith and Steve O’Keefe gave their team’s innings some respectability.
Leg-spinner Smith, who is in Australia’s 17-man squad for next week’s Gabba Test, showed plenty of determination for his 59 while O’Keefe hit out lustily for 66 off 116 balls and was the last man out.
“The ball was moving around a little bit,” Smith said.
“It was the sort of wicket that you never feel in on. It was tough to grind it out and get a few runs on the board.
“At stages England bowled a little bit too short, they didn’t make me drive all that much.
“They probably can learn from that in the second innings. But it was good to get out there and get a few runs under my belt.”
Tremlett claimed the wickets of out-of-favour Test opener Phillip Hughes (2), skipper Cameron White (5), wicketkeeper Tim Paine (27) and O’Keefe.
Shahzad showed plenty of aggression to grab the wickets of Test prospect Usman Khawaja (13), Smith and Clint McKay (0).
England lost their early momentum as conditions improved for batting in the afternoon, with Smith and O’Keefe hitting out freely.
Smith’s spirited knock came to an end when when he was bowled by Shahzad off an inside edge off 121 balls with five fours and a six.
O’Keefe hoicked two sixes, one which sailed out of the ground, and six fours.
But England had a late setback with skipper Strauss out in the fifth over to a great juggling catch by O’Keefe in the gully off paceman Mark Cameron.
England showed the strength of their bowling depth by fielding their second string contingent after sending Test bowlers, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Graeme Swann off to Brisbane to adjust to the conditions ahead of the Test.
Tremlett and Tim Bresnan, who both sat out the opening two tour matches, proved a handful on a responsive pitch in the morning session.
Hughes got an edge to Strauss at first slip off Tremlett in the day’s third over.
Shahzad was rewarded for bowling a fine line when he coaxed a thin edge from Khawaja to wicketkeeper Matt Prior for 13 in the 14th over.
Callum Ferguson did not improve his chances of a Test spot when he lasted just eight balls for his seven.
Ferguson got a fantastic delivery from Bresnan which straightened and squared him up to get a faint outside edge to Prior, leaving Australia struggling at 48 for three after 15 overs.
Panesar took a blinding right-handed catch to dismiss opener Ed Cowan for 31 to give Bresnan his second wicket.
Cowan pulled fiercely but Panesar at square leg stuck out his right hand to take a wonderful catch.
White was bowled between bat and pad by Tremlett for five as he attempted to force through the off-side before Smith launched his team’s fightback.