Trott kept in reserve as Watson fills boots

Australia 340-9 dec England Lions 23-0

Ricky Ponting was cheered, rather than booed, to the crease; Shane Watson once again missed out on a century, but only just this time; and England's "next cab off the rank" stayed in the parking lot. It was not a bad day in the Kent sunshine for Australia, really.

Four years ago, when they last came to defend the urn, the Australians had plenty to worry them during an equivalent two-day game between the Fourth and Fifth Tests. For a start, Ponting's men were 2-1 down in that series, rather than sitting reasonably pretty at 1-1, and then they were obliged to spend a long Saturday in Essex chasing leather as two promising young batsmen went run-crazy.

Alastair Cook hit a double hundred and Ravi Bopara made 135 at Chelmsford. Happy times. But any possibility of Jonathan Trott, the newcomer who will replace Bopara at The Oval on Thursday, barring something unexpected, putting Australia's bowlers to the sword disappeared when he was withdrawn from the England Lions team.

Had he played, Trott might have injured himself. Alternatively, he could have been worked over by Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee. But maybe, just maybe, the Warwickshire batsman would have imposed himself on the opposition and given England a little lift heading into the most important week of the season. We will never know, with the selectors having decided to play safe. But one thing is for sure: Trott will soon find himself in a whole new ball game.

"It's a huge step up from first-class cricket to Test cricket, particularly for the Ashes," said Australia's Mike Hussey. "He'll certainly know all about it if he makes his debut in this series. If he'd played here, it would probably have been a good chance for us to have a look at him but it would also have given him a chance to look at our bowlers. He was initially in the team so we were expecting to see him."

The only decision for Australia to make on Thursday, it would seem, is which paceman makes way to accommodate the return of the spinner Nathan Hauritz, who was sensibly omitted at seam- and swing-friendly Headingley. Stuart Clark fears the worst but Australia have not only given him an opportunity here, but also included Peter Siddle, Johnson and Lee in a bowler-heavy team.

Put in to bat, Australia looked for a short time as though they might be embarrassingly light on batting. Steve Kirby and James Harris gained a fair bit of assistance with the new ball and struck early, albeit through Simon Katich cutting a long hop from Harris to point.

Since hitting a century in the First Test at Cardiff, Katich has lost the plot a little. But having declined to give the now spare opener, Phillip Hughes, a game, the Australians clearly do not plan another change at the top of the order. The one switch they did make, jettisoning Hughes after two Tests, has worked a treat. Watson may have failed to convert any of his three half-centuries against England into a hundred but he has done the team proud.

Watson hit the ball ferociously hard once he settled, pulling and driving as runs flowed at better than five an over.Ponting, who was given a fine reception by a crowd of around 5,000, gifted Chris Woakes his wicket by feathering a pull down the leg-side. But Watson's departure, after hitting 15 fours and a pulled six off Woakes, was a greater surprise. Five shy of a hundred, he played a firm-footed waft against Liam Plunkett and edged a catch behind.

That was the end of the real excitement, apart from when Michael Carberry held a terrific low catch at point to remove Marcus North.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk