BRISBANE: Haseeb Hameed hit an unbeaten 53 and Rory Burns 39 as England began their Ashes tour in a low-key and rain-hit intra-squad warm-up game Tuesday, played against the backdrop of a racism scandal back home.
Test superstars Joe Root, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes were among the first wave of players to land in Brisbane on November 6 with their Twenty20 World Cup contingent jetting in later.
They have completed 14 days quarantine at a Gold Coast resort and experienced their first real taste of Australian conditions in the informal three-day game against England Lions at Peter Burge Oval.
But rain restricted the opening day to just 29 overs.
Hameed struck eight boundaries and Burns found the ropes four times as an England XI made 98 without loss after winning the toss and opting to bat Zak Crawley is scheduled to come in at three followed by skipper Root, Stokes then Ollie Pope.
While Broad was on the team sheet, his veteran fast-bowling partner Anderson was not.
Other absent Ashes squad members included Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Mark Wood, who all played at the T20 World Cup. The five-Test tour got under way amid a growing racism scandal surrounding the treatment of Root's former Yorkshire teammate Azeem Rafiq.
Pakistan-born Rafiq told a parliamentary inquiry this month how racist language was "constantly" used during his two spells at the county club.
He made several allegations against high-profile individuals, including former England players Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Matthew Hoggard and Alex Hales.
In comments from England's Gold Coast base on November 12, Root demanded change but claimed he had not witnessed racist incidents during his time at Yorkshire.
He has not spoken publicly since and there have been no media opportunities with the England squad.
Australia have their own problems heading into the first Test at Brisbane on December 8 -- Tim Paine quit as captain last week over a sexting scandal. Pat Cummins or Steve Smith is expected to take the reins.
England are due to play a second three-day, intra-squad warm-up from November 30, while the Australians have their own fixture from December 1 -- the only red-ball preparations for either side ahead of the opening Test.