Aussies ease into tour

The touring Australians have begun their Ashes campaign with a strong victory against a festival team at Arundel today.

The PCA Masters XI batted first, with disaster early as Stephen Fleming was caught at slip first ball by Brett Lee. However Paul Collingwood put them back on track until he fell victim to a Michael Clarke hat-trick, with Kevin Pietersen caught sweeping and Graeme Swann stumped first ball.

Darren Maddy, the leading run-scorer in the 2004 Twenty20 format made an impressive 70 and was well supported by a quick 39 by Mark Ealham. They eventually finished with 167 for 6.

The opening pairing of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist got some batting practice, adding 131 for the first wicket. Hayden scored 79 off 46 balls while Gilchrist fell for 53. Skipper Ricky Ponting completed the job, eventually winning it with a boundary off the penultimate ball of the match.

Although very much a warm-up match, the tour will begin in earnest on Saturday when the Australians play Leistershire, the precursor to the Twenty20 international against England at Southhampton on Monday.

Australian XI 170 for 2 (19.5 overs) (Hayden 70, Gilchrist 53, Ponting 31*) defeated the PCA Masters XI 167 for 6 (Maddy 70, Ealham 39) by eight wickets.

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