Shaun Marsh brushes aside ailments to lead Australia's recovery

Australia 297-4 v South Africa

With the start of the lambing season now upon us, Alastair Cook may not have found a spare moment to catch up with events at Centurion, but, if he did, the England captain may just have afforded himself a wry smile.

After the disastrous Ashes tour and its bitter recriminations, Cook is performing his annual duties on his father-in-law's farm in Bedfordshire while Australia embark on the next stage of their recovery under Michael Clarke against the world's No 1-ranked Test nation. But when Clarke was out in the seventh over after lunch, having been surprisingly put in by the South African captain, Graeme Smith, the tourists found themselves struggling at 98 for 4.

Yet in circumstances that would have seemed particularly familiar to Cook, Australia's middle order came to the rescue once more to allow them to finish the first day of the three-match series in the ascendant. The only difference from the Ashes was that this time the recovery was led by Shaun Marsh, playing his first Test since January 2012, who posted an unbroken stand of 199 with Steve Smith to finish unbeaten on 122.

Called up as a replacement for the injured Shane Watson despite still nursing a strained stomach muscle and suffering from the effects of jet lag, having arrived only on Sunday, Marsh – the son of former Australia coach Geoff – had averaged just 25 in first-class cricket for Western Australia in the two years since being dropped. But the 30-year-old took only 174 balls to reach his second Test century in a flowing innings that left South Africa's much-vaunted pace attack scratching their heads.

He was ably supported by Smith, who will now hope to complete his third Test century in his past four innings when play resumes this morning.

"It took the rest of us a week to get over the jet lag, so it must have been hard for him being here only three days," Smith said of Marsh's effort.

"He was amazing all day, he let the ball come into his areas and then capitalised on it. We knew it would be tough initially but it has turned into a good wicket and there are now a couple of cracks developing. So we will want to get a big first-innings total and then hope the cracks begin to play a part in the game."

South Africa have only lost one Test match at Centurion since its debut in 1995 – against Nasser Hussain's England in 2000 – and Smith now finds his side under real pressure. Without the retired all-rounder Jacques Kallis, and with the leg-spinner Imran Tahir jettisoned following an indifferent series against India, Ryan McLaren and Robin Petersen were both brought in but endured a testing day, taking only one wicket between them.

The trusted opening partnership of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel looked to have justified Smith's decision to insert Australia after winning the toss when Chris Rogers and David Warner were both dismissed inside the first 10 overs. That brought the debutant Alex Doolan and Marsh to the crease and, aside from a half-chance spurned by Hashim Amla, the new partnership steadied the ship well until McLaren had Doolan caught at midwicket.

Batting at No 5 at his own behest, Clarke looked in good form until he was lured into a hook off Steyn to bring Smith in. But that was the last opportunity for a sparse home crowd to celebrate as Australia proved the durability they have developed under coach Darren Lehmann that Cook now knows only too well.

Pietersen's freelance era begins with pay cut

Kevin Pietersen's first engagement as a freelance Twenty20 player will be for Delhi Daredevils after today's Indian Premier League auction, although the former England batsman's final price of $1.5m (£880,000) was well down on predictions. Released by Delhi last month, Pietersen was initially bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad but Daredevils used their right-to-match card to intervene, a saving of £300,000 over the price they paid for him in 2012.

Having made himself available for the entire six weeks of the tournament for the first time, it was expected that his signature would fetch the highest price but that honour went to India's Yuvraj Singh – so often Pietersen's nemesis in the past. His price tag of $2.25m (£1.37m) was close to the record set in 2011, although in the whole spending was more frugal than previous years, with just £21m paid out compared to £31m in 2011.

Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch
tv

Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
News
news
News
peopleCampaign 'to help protect young people across the world'
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
Life and Style
tech

News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'
film

"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier

Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker