England skip nets two days out from Test

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In the midst of an Ashes annihilation, England decided a net session was unnecessary two days out from the fifth and final Test in Sydney.

Following their capitulation in Melbourne, the tourists’ surprising decision on Wednesday means they’ll have just one session on game eve to attempt to paper over the cracks and stop Australia completing only the third 5-0 whitewash in Ashes history.

For half their innings this summer, England have failed to post a total greater than 200 and they are yet to pass the 400 mark in this Ashes series and the last.

Rookie allrounder Ben Stokes is the only batsman to have scored a century all series and their bowling arsenal has been lacklustre at best.

England were originally scheduled to begin training at the SCG at 8.30am on Wednesday, but changed their plans to incorporate a New Year’s Day sleep in and instead started work more than an hour later.

Both teams trained early due to a joint function at Kirrabilli House, but unlike Australia, England only took part in a field session.

While their catching was abysmal in Melbourne, results would suggest England’s basic batting and bowling skills needed the more urgent attention.

England sent unheralded 23-year-old Scott Borthwick out to face the media on Wednesday, and the leg spinner said the visitors were comfortable with their preparation.

“No reason whatsoever (for not having a net),” said Borthwick.

“We just had a nice run around, a bit of catching … we’ll do our skills tomorrow.”

England are expected to make further changes to their side for Sydney, in a bid to save face, but also build for the future.

Borthwick is tipped to replace Monty Panesar in the attack, while Zimbabwean-born left-hander Gary Ballance appears set to make his Test debut somewhere in the top order – in all likelihood at the expense of opener Michael Carberry.

Australian vice-captain Brad Haddin said from his point of view, England were in disarray.

“I don’t think they’re in a great place to be perfectly honest,” said Haddin.

“I think you could probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day. I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit.

“The batting and bowling it’s an individual thing but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day.”

© AAP 2014
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