Australia's Batsmen Prosper At Worcester
Australians 340-4 (Watson 109) v
Tour Match, New Road, day one
Australia’s Ashes preparations continued to go according to plan on the opening day of their final warm-up match against Worcestershire. They carried on from where they left off against Somerset - where they recovered from a poor first two sessions to win convincingly - and closed a rain-affected day on 340 for four.
The new opening partnership of Shane Watson and Chris Rogers provided the talking point throughout the morning session. The pair put on 170 prior to being parted just after lunch, with Watson racing to his first century in first-class cricket since 2010 before the break. Following on from his dominant 90 against Somerset, he reached three figures off just 94 balls and hit 16 boundaries in all during the innings.
Rogers, representing Australia for the first time in over five years and assured by coach Darren Lehmann of a first Test spot, was less attacking but equally at ease in making 75 against a relatively poor Worcestershire bowling attack and on a flat New Road pitch.
The home side were without their talismanic seamer Alan Richardson as they rested him for more important challenges and handed a club debut to Oxford MCCU captain Charlie Morris, who opened the bowling alongside the erratic Chris Russell. The change pair of Gareth Andrew and Jack Shantry provided little threat, while the absence of a specialist spinner - improving off-spinner Moeen Ali, in the side primarily for his batting, bowled 19 overs - hardly helped matters.
Nonetheless, Worcestershire’s attack kept at their task admirably and were rewarded, if not by wickets, then at least with a decrease in the Australian run rate. Ed Cowan and Michael Clarke did add 96 for the third-wicket, but the former looked a little scratchy and is far from certain of walking out at Trent Bridge next week.
Both were run out not long after passing 50 and not long before rain brought an early close after 81.5 overs. Steve Smith and Phil Hughes are the unbeaten batsmen at stumps and will hope to press their claims for a Test spot tomorrow.