IT WAS a day of small consolations for Alan Igglesden and Matt Hayden here yesterday. Both players have spent the summer knocking on the door of the Test series without achieving anything other than a bruised knuckle.
In Igglesden's case, it was injuries of another kind - a back on the eve of the Old Trafford Test, a side strain prior to Trent Bridge - that have kept him out of the team. Yesterday was his chance to show Australia what England have been missing. Instead, he was given an inkling of the fate he avoided.
The good news is he stayed on the pitch all day, the bad news that he failed to take a wicket. Igglesden, to be fair, is still short of full fitness and it showed. His bowling was short of the nip and movement that has put him top of the national averages. It feels, he said this week, like he is 'bowling with the hand-brake on'.
Steve Waugh, in particular, took advantage with his fourth century of the tour, making 111 not out in just under five hours. Mark Taylor and Damien Martyn also made half-centuries, while Hayden's 31 took him past 1,000 first-class runs for the tour, making him the first Australian tourist to achieve the feat without actually playing in a Test match.
Hayden's tour went like a dream until the first one-day international. The form and fortune that had earned him a place ahead of Michael Slater briefly deserted him and, by the time it came back, Slater was impregnable.
A similar problem has afflicted the precocious Martyn, namely the form of the Waugh twins, and it was a case of more of the same yesterday as Steve Waugh took his tour average past 80 to join David Boon.
Waugh had batted for more than 13 hours of Test cricket without being out until his dismissal - and that was a disputed one - at Edgbaston. Yesterday, he carried on as if never dislodged, cutting and driving to the very last ball of the day, which was despatched for his 15th four.
For the Australians, after four months on tour these games are increasingly a chore, in spite of the pounds 2,000 bonus from Tetley Bitter for each one they win. The Test team pick themselves and the task is simply to avoid injury and maintain concentration. That was comfortably achieved yesterday.
It began with a timely - in view of his benefit - reprise from Richard Ellison of the summer of '85, when he was a key figure as David Gower's team won the Ashes. After Slater was caught at square leg, he induced Hayden to drive to mid-off and had Taylor top-edging a pull to wide mid-on.
But Waugh and Martyn added an unbeaten 145 as Kent, with only Richard Davis of their first-choice attack fit and playing, began to appreciate just what the national team has suffered this year.
(Australians won toss)
AUSTRALIANS - First Innings
M J Slater c Fulton b Ealham 7
* M A Taylor c Cowdrey b Ellison 78
M L Hayden c Igglesden b Ellison 31
S R Waugh not out 111
D R Martyn not out 58
Extras (lb3 nb8) 11
Total (for 3) 296
Fall: 1-22 2-90 3-151.
To bat: I A Healy, B P Julian, T J Zoehrer, S K Warne, T B A May, W J Holdsworth.
KENT: * M R Benson, D P Fulton, T R Ward, N J Llong, G R Cowdrey, M A Ealham, S A Marsh, R P Davis, M M Patel, R M Ellison, A P Igglesden.
Umpires: P Adams and J W Holder.
David Lawrence, the Gloucestershire fast bowler who cracked a kneecap while playing for England against New Zealand 18 months ago, is negotiating to play with a club in Sydney this winter. If he comes through without mishap, he will sign a fresh contract with Gloucestershire.