On day two of England’s intra-squad match, Kent’s Zak Crawley top scored, with 43 off 77 balls, a positive innings strewn with neat drives.
The battle for bowling places intensified as Jos Buttler’s team, who declared on their day one score of 287 for five, had dismissed Ben Stokes’ side for 233 at stumps.
Buttler’s hand was strengthened by Jofra Archer and Mark Wood’s first-ever appearance together in red-ball cricket and the pair offered a promising glimpse of what they might be capable of in tandem.
Injury has kept the country’s quickest bowlers apart since both played key roles in England’s World Cup victory last year, but midway through the morning session they teamed up for a promising eight-over spell that cost just seven runs and yielded the wicket of opener Dom Sibley for 12.
Archer banked the scalp, caught behind flicking the ball down leg-side, but the pair hunted together to unsettle Sibley with pacey short-pitched bowling. Wood might just as easily have been the one celebrating moments earlier, forcing Sibley to fend awkwardly to Ollie Pope, who squandered the chance at short-leg.
Wood returned in the afternoon session to take Jonny Bairstow’s outside edge with the first ball of his second spell and finished with spotless figures of one for 14 from 11 overs, while Archer returned two for 37 after adding Ben Foakes for 38. He received treatment for sore feet late on, understood to be a result of wearing new bowling boots, and was replaced by Surrey’s Amar Virdi – the 29th player involved in the match – and who claimed the final wicket of the day to remove Saqib Mahmood.
Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson also offered a reminder of his skills, bowling with precision as he accounted for Moeen Ali and Lewis Gregory in a double-wicket maiden.
Stokes made his way to 41, and doled out Bess’ only real punishment when he launched him for six and four in the same over, before he was stumped charging Matt Parkinson.
Off the pitch, a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: “Sam Curran has had sickness and diarrhoea overnight. He is feeling better this afternoon, and has been self-isolating in his room at the Ageas Bowl.
“He will play no further part in the practice match. He has been monitored by the team doctor throughout and was tested for Covid-19 earlier today.”
All players and backroom staff have been receiving twice-weekly Covid-19 tests ahead of the first #RaiseTheBat Test against the West Indies, starting on Wednesday, with regular screening for venue workers.
The ECB’s first set of reported results yielded an all-clear of 702 negative tests. An exhaustive set of precautions are being taken at both the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford to establish fully ‘bio-secure’ environments.