Michael Clarke helps tourists bat away familiar criticism

Somerset 320 Australians 266-4

Taunton

Australia's batting is deemed to be their weaker suit. If, for instance, a skilled advocate could make a case for their bowling attack as the best in the world he might, while he was about it, try to demonstrate that their batting line-up is the worst.

Its members have a lot of runs to score on this Ashes tour to repel the perception of their fallibility. They did not quite manage it on the second day of their warm-up match against Somerset, though a total of 266 for 4 before it rained at tea was rather more than adequate this early in the piece.

There are exceptions, of whom the outstanding one is Michael Clarke, with an average of 66 as captain. This may not be quite Bradmanesque since The Don averaged 101.52 when he led Australia, but for a man with a chronically bad back it is phenomenal.

Clarke, in his first innings since he and his team arrived in late May, was diligent and all but untroubled in making 45 from 95 balls until the seamer Craig Meschede persuaded him to follow one moving away. Meschede took his first first-class wicket on this ground two years ago. Then it was Sachin Tendulkar, who was also caught behind, edging one that shaped away. Last week he had Shivnarine Chanderpaul out in similar fashion at Derby. When you have taken only 20 wickets in all, these are prizes beyond measure.

The other obvious example of an Australian batsman who has an authentic Test record is Shane Watson. It has been announced by the new management that Watson will return to opening in the Ashes series.

He has played nine Tests since being dispatched down the order upon returning to the side following injury, watching his replacements compile one century partnership and 10 below 50. Watson marked his return to No 1 (or 2) with a blistering innings in the morning when he briefly threatened to reach a hundred before lunch.

There were 20 fours in his innings of 90 from 94 balls, driven down the ground, clubbed through the on side with a permanent air of authority. He was harsh on most of the bowlers, including the 19-year-old speedster, Jamie Overton. But Overton also bowled some searing deliveries and displayed a mean bouncer. He was far too expensive but it was easy to see why he is talked of in future international terms. Tall, strapping fast bowlers usually are.

He was rewarded with the wicket of Watson, who edged him to second slip. It fell apart for him a little afterwards and he was clearly angry with himself. There is plenty to work on here, Somerset should look after him.

Phil Hughes and Brad Haddin took the tourists to the premature close. The county have fielded a strong side for this match. Worcestershire seem ready to do similarly next week and have agreed to have Nick Compton as a guest player at England's request.

This shows that Compton, while disappointed at almost certainly being replaced by Joe Root in the first Test, remains in the selectors' thoughts. He may indeed be the spare batsman now, not simply the reserve opener.

Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: "We were very keen to give Nick first-class practice, that's why we have arranged for him to play for Worcestershire against the Australians. He is by no means out of the picture."

It remains possible that England will ask Worcestershire to find room for another player in their thinking, if not yet their team. Australia are not being allowed to have it easy.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own