Gary Ballance strengthened his claims for a Test place with a half-century during day one of the warm-up match against a Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Alice Springs.
With England weighing up their options on who should replace Jonathan Trott - whose tour was cut short by a stress-related illness - for the second Test Ballance gave a timely hint of his abilities.
Handed his chance at No 3 in the order for the two-day friendly at Traegar Park, Ballance was patient early on but he had eased his way to 55 before he was unfortunately run out.
Ballance's knock was one of the few highlights for England as they stuttered to 212-7 before declaring with about an hour left of play on day one.
Jonny Bairstow, who also has his sights set on playing Adelaide, and Graeme Swann were able to give the score an air of respectability with a 49-run seventh-wicket stand, while Ben Stokes showed some nice touches before he was dismissed for 28.
However Michael Carberry, Joe Root, Matt Prior and Ian Bell all fell cheaply as England's woes at the top order continued, while the bowlers failed to make a breakthrough as the Chairman's XI reached 16-0 at stumps.
Carberry was the first back into the pavilion after he clipped Josh Lalor to Marcus Harris at mid-wicket for six.
Root, one of the potential options to start the second Test at three in the order, managed 22 before he cut Jayde Herrick to Michael Hill in the gully.
Prior (19) looked to play positively and moved past Ballance in the scoring but his 27-ball cameo came to an end as he edged Simon Mackin behind to Jake Doran.
Stokes, who has been mentioned as a possible starter in Adelaide, put on 43 for the fourth wicket but he fell when Harris took a good catch at short leg off Alex Keath.
Ballance, whose previous three appearances for England had seen him pick up two ducks and four, remained defiant, though, and he brought up his half-century off 124 balls, including five fours.
However the 24-year-old's resistance was ended in disappointing circumstances as he was run out for 55 after a mix-up with Ian Bell - with James Muirhead's throw from mid-on catching Ballance short of the crease.
Bell, handed the captaincy ahead of the rested Alastair Cook, added just 13 before edging Mackin behind to Doran - with the keeper taking a good diving catch to leave England on 149-6.
Bairstow and Swann enjoyed the best partnership of the innings as they put on 49 for the seventh wicket. However Swann's cameo of 29 off 36 balls was ended when his attempted sweep off Muirhead found Hill in the slips.
Bairstow had eased his way to 31 not out before the declaration came after 78 overs.
However the England attack of Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin and Swann were unable to dislodge either Steve Cazzulino (5no) or Harris (10no) in the final hour of play.
The second Test in Adelaide will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 HD from December 5.