Wed, Nov 15, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Fumbling England draw with NSW

AFP , SYDNEY

England's fielding horrors returned yesterday as their three-day practice match with New South Wales petered out to a tame draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

NSW batted out their second innings from lunch to an agreed stumps on the final day, yet England blotted their Ashes preparations in that time with a couple of fumbles, recalling memories of their shoddy fielding in last year's 2-1 Ashes series triumph.

When stumps were drawn, NSW were 194 for six in their second innings after dismissing England for 349 to hold a six-run innings lead.

Michael Clarke, looking to return to the Australian team, topscored with 68 before he was bowled by Ashley Giles and skipper Simon Katich retired on his tea score of 55.

England put down 25 catches to Australia's 17 in last year's Ashes series victory with wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and Kevin Pietersen the worst offenders -- Jones missed seven chances while Pietersen dropped six.

Jones, preferred by team selectors to be the Test wicketkeeper ahead of Chris Read, was at it again yesterday, missing a stumping when Michael Clarke was 47 in the over after lunch, while Andrew Strauss fumbled a chance at slip before Aaron O'Brien had scored.

Both chances came off spinner Monty Panesar's bowling, while James Anderson dropped Simon Katich off Matthew Hoggard when he was on one on his way to 55.

Anderson, who has been given the nod by team selectors to play in the opening Test in Brisbane next week instead of Sajid Mahmood, was on a hat-trick at one stage after dismissing O'Brien (2) and Daniel Smith (0), but youngster Moises Henriques saw off the attempt.

Anderson finished England's best bowler with 3-40 off 10 overs.

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