North finds his direction
Marcus North knows there will be tougher days ahead but he was relieved to break through his early tour slump with a composed 106 in an ideal warm-up before next week's first Test. North had 1, 11 and 1 before this innings and he can now think clearly about how to cope with England's 1st XI from No. 6 following a commanding performance against their understudies in Worcester.
"Leading into an Ashes series there is pressure to score runs, especially in the position where I have only played two Tests and am looking to still cement that position of mine," he said. "Not that it was building up massively, but there was a bit of pressure there leading into the Test without a score and without finding the middle. It is pleasing the work has paid off."
He refocussed with some early morning drills under the watch of the coach Tim Nielsen and when he stepped out at 41 for 2 he soon found the freedom that had been missing. Particularly strong down the ground, he also worked the ball cleverly and unleashed some strong pull shots from the spinners as the third day ended.
"Maybe it was a bit of transition of not playing a lot out in the middle and having a lot of nets," he said. "The first innings was an example of not watching the ball enough and last night and this morning I did a few drills with Tim and started watching the ball and I felt a lot more comfortable."
North will also be required to deliver offspin in Cardiff and, with Nathan Hauritz's problems, he is looking increasingly likely to be the No. 1 slow bowler despite his part-time status. "I played that role in South Africa in the two Tests, and it would not just be me, but Simon [Katich] and [Michael] Clarke as well. If that is the way the balance of the team goes, I would feel comfortable to play a role with my bowling for sure."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo