Shaun Marsh tunes up in case Test call comes
Australians 413 for 9 (S Marsh 101, Warner 101, Watson 61, M Marsh 53) v Derbyshire
Derby's low-slung county ground was once a place of indifferent achievement by Donald Bradman, who never made a hundred here in four innings. It was also first of the four counties Chris Rogers has called home, in an unpretentious part of the world he still regards fondly.
Rogers, though, was not in Derby this day, still recovering from the inner ear problems that have affected his balance since he was struck on the side of the helmet by James Anderson at Lord's. Instead, Shaun Marsh had the opportunity to audition for the role of opener in case of Rogers not recovering in time for the Edgbaston Test. He made the most of it by sculpting 101, thus pressing his case by bettering Bradman.
David Warner also cantered to a hundred against a Derbyshire bowling attack that emulated the ensembles put out by Kent and Essex in proving to be diligent and persistent but not of international class. There was a significant omission from the hosts' attack also, for the left-armer Mark Footitt, who journeyed to Spain for Trevor Bayliss' orientation week with England, was not selected by way of resting.
If England wanted to hide their intentions for the rest of the series, the Australians were somewhat less opaque. Apart from Marsh, the rest of the batting order favoured those who had played at Cardiff and Lord's, leaving the rest in positions that looked very much those of reserves. Shane Watson was at seven behind Mitchell Marsh and Peter Nevill, and Brad Haddin as far down as eight.
Watson and Haddin found themselves batting together in the final session, and Haddin at one point called for the physio Alex Kountouris to examine some apparent tightness or cramping around the left hamstring. After a brief consultation Haddin kept on batting, and he and Watson went on to add an entertaining 66.
Much as he did against Sri Lanka during the World Cup after being dropped and recalled, Watson looked far less anxious and immeasurably more fluent than he had seemed earlier in the tour and particularly in Cardiff. Watson suffered from a virus during the Lord's Test and lost his voice - his bat was rather more fluent here to remind all present of his talent, until a leg glance too fine made its way into the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Watson's were runs the captain Michael Clarke would dearly have liked, after watching Warner and Marsh add a more or less untroubled 154 until the swifter of the pair reached his hundred and promptly retired. Clarke wore a helmet with the neck guard that had helped prevent Rogers from suffering a heavier blow from Anderson, and looked intent on a longer stay than he had managed in either of the first two Tests.
But after 37 balls and one boundary, a well-pitched delivery from the 19-year-old debutant Will Davis found the outside edge and was snaffled by Tom Knight in the slips. Clarke's present stiffness at the crease will be a source of some concern for the coach Darren Lehmann and his batting assistant Michael Di Venuto, for it is readily apparent that he is not merely out of runs but certainly out of form.
Clarke's exit also brought a low score for Adam Voges, who was pinned in front of his stumps by Davis and trudged off lbw. He too has struggled for a score of import thus far, though it must be said he has looked more comfortable at the crease than Clarke and twice edged useful deliveries behind. Nonetheless Voges will not want to wait too much longer than Edgbaston for a score beyond 50, lest Marsh find another way into the XI other than the opener's path that may be left open by Rogers.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig