England players got to spend some crucial time in the crease as the intra-squad warm-up fixture between Stokes’ XI and Butler’s XI ended in a draw.
A handful of key batsmen spent some adequate time in the three-day internal match ahead of their first red-ball encounter starting on July 8 at The Ageas Bowl.
Five of England’s likely top six for the first Test against the visitors enjoyed valuable outings with Ollie Pope top-scoring an unbeaten 55 on the final day last night for Team Buttler.
Batting first, Team Buttler declared at 287/5 with James Bracey and Dan Lawrence hitting fifties. James Anderson and Craig Overton, both representing Team Stokes, took a couple of wickets each.
In reply, Stokes’ men folded for 233 in 87.5 overs with Jofra Archer, Ollie Robinson and Dom Bess picking two wickets each.
Team Buttler raced to 200/6d on the last day, courtesy Ollie Pope’s unbeaten 55 and a couple of brisk innings from Chris Woakes and captain Buttler himself. In addition to Pope’s fifty, Burns, Sibley, Crawley and Stokes each passed 30.
Captain Stokes then finished final day with his fireworks, scoring an unbeaten 33 off 17 as the match ended in a draw with his side posting 157/4 in 30.2 overs on the scoreboard.
Joe Denly however, failed to join them among the runs, getting struck lbw second ball to Jack Leach but the belated appearance of Dan Lawrence at number seven suggests his place is safe for now.
Now, the final call lies with the selectors to fill in the blanks. With a 22-man squad due to be named on Saturday morning for next week’s series opener against West Indies in Southampton, eight names will be dropped from the original training group of 30.