Darren Lehmann's Australia began their warm-up match today
A slideshow review of Worcestershire versus Australia at New Road.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat first at New Road. The visitors opted to rest the bulk of their expected first-choice bowling attack but rammed the side with heavy-hitting batsmen and lined up as follows:
- Shane Watson
- Chris Rogers
- Ed Cowan
- Michael Clarke
- Phil Hughes
- Steven Smith
- Brad Haddin
- James Faulkner
- Ryan Harris
- Jackson Bird
- Ashton Agar
Steven Smith (right) and Usman Khawaja (left) share a laugh last week in Bristol
Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin are the four batsman certain of their position in the Australian side for the First Ashes Test on July 10th.
Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith are therefore the men fighting for positions 3, 5 and 6 in the Test side.
Warner is still serving his ban for his altercation with Joe Root in a Birmingham bar but will remain hopeful of selection after coach Darren Lehmann offered words of support for the left-hander in a radio interview yesterday evening; Khawaja meanwhile missed out on selection for this Tour match. Cowan, Hughes and Smith were the men out to impress at New Road.
Watson acknowledges the crowd after reaching a century
Watson's position in the Australian batting order has been a matter of enormous debate, but after being confirmed as opener for the First Ashes Test last week, a century at New Road today further enhanced the argument that the top of the order is the best place for the muscular right-hander.
Watson has experienced serious trouble converting fifties into hundreds in the past and today's century ended a drought lasting 51 first-class innings.
Watson has all the attributes of a high-class Test cricketer but he has struggled of late and this summer's Ashes series has already been earmarked as make or break for him and his career - so a century before lunch on the first day of this warm-up match against Worcestershire bodes well for the 32 year-old all-rounder.
Ed Cowan made a strong claim for the number three position with 58
The Australian starting XI for the First Test appears to be being formed through leaks and quotes, but the number three slot is still one position that remains unresolved.
Cowan knows he won't be opening after Rogers was named as Watson's opening partner yesterday, but his gritty innings of 58 today will support the argument that the left-hander should remain in the side, albeit just one position lower than normal. Cowan will be glad that Clarke is no longer a formal selector after he ran him out today, before he was also run out when he slipped mid-pitch!
Clarke looked in excellent touch during his fifty
The bowling was not particularly challenging, but Clarke, who has been in stupendous form in the past 18 months seemed in fine touch out in the middle today. Wearing a classic long sleeved sweater, on an overcast, typically English day, with a small crowd at a cosy county ground Clarke's innings could've been one from eras gone-by.
After the double run-out of Cowan and Clarke, Hughes and Smith joined forces in the middle before rain halted proceedings with Australia well placed on 340-4 at Stumps.