Amid continuing uncertainty over whether Chris Rogers will be fit for the third Test, Australia found reassurance in the form of David Warner and Shaun Marsh in a high-scoring opening day to their three-day match against Derbyshire here.
Warner, who made 83 in the second innings in Australia’s crushing 405-run win at Lord’s, was typically aggressive as he completed his first century on English soil before retiring, the pair having put on 154 for the first wicket in a total of 413 for 9.
Marsh, another left-hander who would be expected to deputise for Rogers at Edgbaston next week if the veteran opener has not fully recovered from balance problems, also registered a century, his second of the tour as he awaits his Ashes debut.
He also walked off, not out, after his 14th four took him to 101 from 177 balls, having shared a partnership of 78 with his younger brother, all-rounder Mitchell. His score was identical to Warner’s, although made somewhat more cautiously, from 69 more deliveries.
Marsh Snr has played 14 Tests and was Warner’s opening partner during the recent series in the West Indies, following the head injury Rogers suffered during net practice.
To put these achievements in context, it should be noted that Derbyshire, who have to play six 50-over matches in 10 days starting on Sunday, are fielding a weakened attack that includes two seamers making their first-class debuts.
Nonetheless, Marsh, who also made a hundred against Kent, was pleased to prove himself ready to play if required. “I’ve been of the mindset the last couple of weeks that I need to be ready to go if there is an opportunity down the track and I felt I got better as the innings went on,” he said.
The most notable Derbyshire absentee is Mark Footitt, the left-arm fast bowler who has taken 134 first-class wickets in the last two seasons and who was invited to join England’s pre-Ashes training camp in Spain last month.
Of those bowlers the Australians did face, on a benign pitch, the most troublesome was one of the debutants, the 19-year-old right-armer Will Davis, who claimed the Australian captain, Michael Clarke, as his maiden first-class wicket.
He had been the pick of the bowlers in the morning session, conceding only 18 runs from six overs and hitting Warner in the box with a ball that beat the left-hander for pace. Warner had to pause for a few moments before resuming.
When he returned in the afternoon, the youngster struck with the fifth delivery of his second over as Clarke pushed forward tentatively and was caught at first slip. He then dismissed Adam Voges leg before wicket with the first ball of his next over.
A quickish medium-pacer who has twice appeared against Australia for England Under-19s, Davis enjoyed more success with the third ball of his third spell when Peter Nevill carved him straight to point, at which moment his figures were 3 for 32 from 11.3 overs, although he took some punishment later, notably from Shane Watson, dropped after Cardiff, who returned with 61 off 45 balls, including four sixes.
Watson’s wicket was a debut success for 20-year-old left-armer Harry White, who had ended Mitchell Marsh’s 81-ball innings on 53. Both were caught behind, down the leg side.
Australia have rested the other two Mitchells – Starc and Johnson – and did not include Josh Hazlewood, allowing the seamers Peter Siddle and Pat Cummins and spinner Fawad Ahmed some match practice.
Cummins, who took seven wickets in his only Test so far, is appearing in a first-class match for the first time in two years following back and foot injuries. Both Australian wicketkeepers, Nevill and Brad Haddin, are involved and likely to take turns behind the stumps. Haddin did not play at Lord’s after withdrawing because of “family reasons”, although he had been under pressure after a couple of high-profile mistakes. Haddin won the first round of their personal battle, scoring 32 to Nevill’s one.
Rogers will undergo a review of his progress on Saturday after more tests. He retired after suffering a dizzy spell at the crease at Lord’s on Sunday and is believed to have felt unsteady again on Sunday evening and on Monday.
It has been confirmed that Rogers suffered damage to the vestibular system in his right inner ear when he was struck by a Jimmy Anderson bouncer two days before he began to show ill effects. He is due to see a physiotherapist skilled in correcting balance problems as part of his treatment.
Team doctor Peter Brukner said: “There are various techniques they can use to help resolve some of these issues.” But Brukner cast doubt on whether he would be ready to play at Edgbaston. “If he continues to improve the way he does, he should be back playing cricket fairly soon,” Brukner said. “As to exactly when, we can’t say. We haven’t ruled him out of next week’s Test, it’s just a matter of seeing how he goes over the next 48 hours.”Reuse content