On a day when rain always seemed imminent but arrived to wash out only five overs, Australia dismissed Nottinghamshire for 239 and then progressed to 51 for 1 at the close. More importantly their attack, which had been toothless in the first Test looked to be honing a sharper edge.
Glenn McGrath, their shock bowler who misfired on the wrong length at Edgbaston, pitched it up a fraction further yesterday and was rewarded with 4 for 63, three caught behind, while Michael Kasprowicz had a malevolence about him that deserved better than his 1 for 54.
Yet, if the Australian selectors went to bed happier last night it probably owed something to Paul Reiffel's form. The Victorian fast-medium had not bowled in a first-class match since February, but he finished with 3 for 15, despite arriving in this country only on Monday.
With Andrew Bichel returning home with a back injury and Jason Gillespie out of next week's second meeting with England, there is a pace place available at Lord's and Reiffel edged ahead of the profligate Brendon Julian (2 for 70).
Two of Reiffel's wickets were trademark seamers which found edges off Matthew Dowman and Paul Johnson, but he also found a tight line that was beyond his rival.
"He makes the ball go both ways," Nathan Astle, who was Nottinghamshire's top scorer with 99, said. "He's going to be an important bowler for the Australians. I got the feeling their attack is coming together.''
Astle, a New Zealander with three centuries in 10 Tests, arrived at Trent Bridge last week to replace his injured compatriot Chris Cairns. The move has cost Nottinghamshire compensation to Accrington who had contracted Astle to play in the Lancashire League but on this evidence the money is well spent.
He was circumspect until he reached 60 and then rode his luck until he chose the wrong length ball to drive from McGrath and slashed the ball to Matthew Elliott at second slip. His 99 had come off 109 deliveries and included 16 fours.
With his departure the Nottinghamshire innings was laid open for McGrath to crash through the tail.Reuse content