Somerset v Australians, Taunton, 3rd day June 28, 2013

Hughes among several Australian positives


Australians 321 for 5 dec and 36 for 0 need another 224 runs to beat Somerset 320 and 260 (Hildreth 75, Trego 60)

James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes and Nathan Lyon have all shown their desire to be part of Australia's team for the first Test against England with heartening displays at Taunton. Having seen off a twilight commencement to their chase of 260 to defeat a doughty Somerset, Ed Cowan and Usman Khawaja will hope to join them on the final day, but concern may be growing over Peter Siddle's place.

While Nick Compton's efforts to turn the heads of the England selectors were curtailed by a debatable lbw decision, Hughes made sound first innings runs before Pattinson and Starc used the old ball almost as effectively as they had harnessed its newer relative on the first evening. Lyon spun the ball usefully and harvested three wickets, though he was slapped to the fence four times in one over by Peter Trego at the end.

The Australian declaration when only one run on from Somerset's first innings and Trego's late afternoon entertainment kept the game open, sating the wish of the captain Michael Clarke, his deputy Brad Haddin and the new coach Darren Lehmann to gain relevant information about the younger players under their command in pressured fourth innings situations.

James Faulkner was serviceable with bat and ball but Siddle remained short of rhythm and direction, leaving Lehmann and the selector on duty, Rod Marsh, to ponder using him against Worcestershire. Siddle's struggles were puzzling given that he is not coming off an injury and has been in the country for nearly a month with Australia A but he has trailed Pattinson and Starc by a distance in terms of threat.

The day had begun badly for Haddin, who found himself outsmarted by Jamie Overton, the first ball of the day whirring full and straight into the wicketkeeper's pads for a swift lbw verdict. Faulkner then played neatly as 55 runs were collected.

Hughes' innings was most notable for the comfort with which he played in a lower posting. Though an aversion to spin is well known, Hughes handled the left-arm slow bowling of the Irishman George Dockrell soundly enough, while driving and pulling the pacemen with some relish. He might have been momentarily miffed to be called in when a century beckoned, but, with 21 first-class hundreds already, he does not share Shane Watson's problems of conversion.

Siddle and Faulkner shared the new ball over Pattinson and Starc, a sign that Lehmann and company were keen to observe all their charges with a brand new Dukes ball in hand. Neither was to be particularly impressive in the brief spell up to lunch, however, and afterwards it was Pattinson who struck, tempting Marcus Trescothick to flirt at an angled ball. Trescothick chose to walk after a thin edge, something Pattinson was momentarily oblivious to as he prolonged a vehement appeal with his back turned to Somerset's captain.

Compton's wicket was somewhat due for Lyon after a very adjacent appeal had been turned down on day one, but the batsman did not appear happy at the verdict, the ball angled in the general direction of leg stump. The first-innings centurion Chris Jones had less reason to complain, unable to get his bat down in time on a Pattinson yorker speared in at middle and off, and Craig Kieswetter was similarly confounded, his off stump neatly plucked.

Pattinson had started to gain some reverse swing, and Starc was soon to show his ability to exploit the old ball's bend. There was the whiff of Wasim Akram about the two deliveries that opened up Alex Barrow and George Dockrell. The first from over the wicket started outside leg stump and swerved to clip off. For the second Starc had moved to around and straightened the ball on to a line that Dockrell's bat was never more than vaguely in the vicinity of.

At the other end Lyon worked through a fruitful spell, gaining spin and bounce to add another two wickets to his tally. A fluent James Hildreth was perhaps unfortunate, scorching a short ball towards midwicket where Hughes juggled the chance before clutching it in one hand, but Craig Meschede was genuinely beaten by spin and pace off the pitch.

At 183 for 8, the visitors' chase looked like being a meagre one, but Trego and Gemaal Hussain ensured that there was enough room in the chase for one or two hundreds to be made by batsmen who need them. Cowan and Khawaja completed the first part of the job, but it is by building a substantial score on day four that they can follow others in showing their worth to the Test XI.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • richard on June 29, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    While one Somerset doesn't make a summer, some good signs for Australia.

  • H on June 29, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    @landl47 on (June 29, 2013, 5:15 GMT) I disagree RE: Faulkner. He's done alright but with Watson also offering a bowling option it may be overkill to pick what may amount to a fifth seamer. Especially as Trent Bridge is likely to swing, so the seam bowlers will get plenty of assistance, but so will England's (especially Jimmy). I can see him going for the "don't lose first, then try to win" mentality and playing Usman Khawaja, now that he got some runs today, at 6 with Rogers at 3 to shield Hughes from the new ball. Like you I reckon he'll stick with Cowan and Watson to open.

    At Lords, where the pitch is generally good for batting, he may feel the need for an extra bowler, especially if the series is still level, but if they manage to take a lead, he may stick with the stronger batting unit and force England to have to bowl out 7 specialist batsmen (and strong tail) twice.

    I agree that one of Siddle or Bird will play with Starc and Pattinson. Think he may look at Bird again at Worcs.

  • Firdaus on June 29, 2013, 12:01 GMT

    @ landl47: I know that, but I'm not making a team before watching the next warm up against the Worcs. I've mentioned that in the comment too. A slash indicates that the decision is pending, and will be made on the basis of the warm up.

  • H on June 29, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    @disco_bob as an England fan, the exact opposite for me. I was quietly confident we'd win the home series and probably draw the away series. Now I'd take a draw in this one and worry that the away series could well be another demolition job. It probably won't be another 5-0 but I can see it coming close. Just goes to show how fickle this game really is.

  • John on June 29, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    Comments on comments: @PrasPunter: the problem with your bowling line-up is that it's fine provided England is bowled out in 60 overs every innings, but horribly vulnerable if England bats for 120 overs. Pattinson, Harris and Starc are all strike bowlers,they simply can't be effective bowling 20 overs a day and even that would still leave Lyon bowling 30 overs a day in English conditions. If you're prepared to take the risk, good for you. The side you've picked will either win big or go down to a massive defeat. I suspect Lehmann is more prudent and will want Siddle in (probably for Harris) to put in the hard toil test cricket requires. I don't see Bird being picked ahead of Siddle.

    @TeamRocker: picking a team requires naming eleven players, not putting down 15 names and saying this would be my team. If you want to pick your side, leave out the 4 you think shouldn't play. That's what Lehmann will have to do.

  • H on June 29, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    @PFEL I get what you're saying about Hughes but the stats don't tell the whole story. He looked tentative and unsure of himself and when he's like that he's a walking wicket. With a technique like his, Hughes has to back himself and keep playing his shots. This time around he looks much more confident and if he can keep that up, he'll be a threat. It's easy to forget that in 2009 he was 20, and at that age sometimes the intensity of the international game can get to you and make you doubt yourself. He's 24 now, a much more mature player, and it shows.

    Someone mentioned Botham and Vaughan's comments about how bad Australia are. They also said England were the best Test side in the world (they aren't, as South Africa proved) and were odds-on favourites to win the Champions Trophy (and that India wouldn't come close). There's a worrying amount of confidence among England fans right now and I hope it doesn't extend to the team. This is Australia; write them off at your peril.

  • disco on June 29, 2013, 10:44 GMT

    A couple of months ago I was not looking forward to what was shaping up to be an Ashes drubbing. The current squad ain't too shabby looking and I am hesitatingly confident. Carna Pies.

  • Prasanna on June 29, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    @Someguy, with his centuries against WI and SL when we were struggling, Wade sort of indicated that he would come good in high-pressure situations. But he seems to have lost it off-late. And he was horrible with gloves as well which makes it all the more difficult for him.

    I agree with you about Paine - he should have been in when Haddin was out but unfortunate to get affected by injuries. In any case, he should be in the team setup when Haddin retires in a couple of years time.

  • David on June 29, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    @reddawn1975 "On the other hand there isa very talented man called Shaun Marsh going to waste"

    I don't think many people doubt Shaun Marsh's talent. What he needs to do, however, is MAKE SOME RUNS in first-class cricket. His FC record is not that of a Test player, and last season's output was worse than usual. A few scores in T20 shouldn't obscure those facts. In my opinion he has not been helped by the tendency of the selectors to pick him for Australia every time he shows a glimpse of form, rather than making him put a couple of solid years of Shield scores behind him before hoping for selection. I feel they are now making the same mistake with his brother who, whilst outrageously talented, needs to develop a defence if he is to succeed at FC level, let alone international.

  • Prasanna on June 29, 2013, 9:13 GMT

    Patto, Rhino, Starc and Lyon shall be our bowlers - Patto and Rhino are automatic choices . Going by this report, Starc seems to be hitting the rhythm. And we need variety in our attack. So he shall come in for Siddle. Lyon has given a very account of himself with his 3 wickets. So our bowling lineup is settled.

    Watto/Cowan/Khawaja/Clarke/Hughes/Rogers/Haddin shall be the batting lineup. A good mix of right-left combination throughout the lineup. Bird/ Siddle shall be considered only if one of the top four gets injured. Given that Patto, Rhino and Starc can bat as well, this squad I think will have the kind of balance. If we must play 5 bowlers, bring in Bird for Cowan and move Rogers up the order. Job done !!

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