Ashes 2013: Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in runs boost

Warm-up match, Chelmsford (day three of four);

England 413-9 dec & 217-3 v Essex 278

Match scorecard

England batsmen Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott spent crucial time in the middle against Essex in their final warm-up game ahead of next week's first Ashes Test against Australia.

With three Essex bowlers injured, Reece Topley and Boyd Rankin were added to the county side mid-game, meaning the match lost its first class status.

"They bowled well, so it was spot on for our Test preparation," said Trott.

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Reece Topley and Boyd Rankin bowled so well, for this game and preparation for the first Test, it was spot on

Jonathan Trott

Cook made 82 and Trott 79 before both retired as England reached 217-3.

That meant they led by 352 when rain curtailed the penultimate day's play.

Promising left-arm seamer Topley had been rested by Essex for the game, while ex-Ireland pace bowler Rankin was with the England squad after making his first Twenty20 international appearance for them last week.

"If it [their inclusion] hadn't been done we would have probably been asking if it was the right preparation for a Test match," said Trott.

Earlier in the day the county side had been bowled out in their first innings for 278.

The move to introduce Topley and Rankin came midway through the afternoon session after Essex lost David Masters to an Achilles tendon problem, fellow pace bowler Tymal Mills with a hamstring strain and saw part-time spinner Tom Westley suffer a dislocated finger while fielding.

And Essex were so short of players that 15-year-old Aaron Beard was employed as a substitute fielder.

England's request to allow Topley and Rankin to join the Essex XI was pragmatic but the downgrading from a first-class match sucked the credibility from the contest, a point highlighted when Cook and Trott were simultaneously retired out at tea.

Ashes itinerary

10-14 July: 1st Test, Trent Bridge

18-22 July: 2nd Test, Lord's

1-5 August: 3rd Test, Old Trafford

9-13 August: 4th Test, Chester-le-Street

21-25 August: 5th Test, The Oval

They came together after new England opener Joe Root was pinned lbw by a quicker ball from leg-spinner Tom Craddock for an assured 26, and added 119 for the second wicket.

Both men regularly worked the ball through the leg side, with Cook slog-sweeping Craddock for six and Trott playing some eye-catching drives off the seamers.

Cook had previously been given an early life as Saj Mahmood put down a straightforward caught and bowled opportunity, while Trott twice flashed the extra pace of Rankin through the vacant slip area.

Their decision not to continue at the beginning of the final session saw Ian Bell and Jonny Bairstow promoted up the order ahead of Kevin Pietersen, but they had little chance to make an impression as showers first interrupted, then ended, play.

England had earlier been boosted by the fitness of Graeme Swann, who did not field on day two as a result of being struck on the arm while batting by Mills.