Stokes and Anderson make ball 'talk' in England warm-up
New captain Ben Stokes and James Anderson both made the ball "talk" according to one of the batsmen who faced them on the first day of England's intra-squad clash at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday.
This is England's lone fixture before next week's first Test behind closed doors against the West Indies at the same ground.
Uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey top-scored with a hard-earned 85 as Jos Buttler's side posted 287 for five against a team led by Stokes, who will captain England in the first of a three-match Test series in the absence of Joe Root.
Regular skipper Root is currently with his wife, who is due to give birth to the couple's second child this week, with health protocols around England's bio-secure 'bubble' meaning he won't be allowed back in time for the start of the first Test on July 8.
But all-rounder Stokes and paceman Anderson, England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, are both set to be involved.
As a precaution against the global virus, bowlers are currently banned from using saliva to shine the ball.
Bracey, however, insisted Anderson was still tough to face all the same.
"There was a long spell from Jimmy at the start of the day and another through the middle as well so it was really nice to be able to combat one of the world's best and know that
I've got the capabilities to get through those tough periods," said Bracey.
"Ben Stokes and Jimmy made it talk," added the 23-year-old, who impressed for the second-string England Lions on their tour of Australia.
It would appear Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley are vying for the opening berths but there is a vacancy to replace Root at number four, if only for one game.
Dan Lawrence, like Bracey yet to play Test cricket, did his prospects no harm with an innings of 58.
"I played with Dan all winter, I went to India with him before Christmas and he was with the Lions in Australia," said Bracey.
"He was outrageous when we went over there. He's really good at going through the gears but it's really important to know he's got a really good defensive game that comes with it.
"He's definitely got the technique to go with it and today we saw more of that as he was able to get into his stride."
This match, as will be the case with the series itself, is taking place without a crowd and Bracey admitted playing in front of no spectators at all had led to a debate among the players over whether to liven up the atmosphere in the manner of a one-day game.
"It was very, very quiet obviously and strange for all of us," he said.
"There were a couple of suggestions: getting crowd noise in like football, maybe getting music in between overs.
"Hopefully the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and Cricket West Indies can come up with something that might help the cause."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ishara S. Kodikara