Australians 507 for 8 dec (S Marsh 114, Smith 111, Rogers 84, Clarke 56, Hunn 5-99) and 322 for 4 dec (M Marsh 101, Watson 81) beat Kent 280 (Key 87, Johnson 4-56) and 294 (Bell-Drummond 127, Claydon 53, Smith 3-54) by 255 runs
Bell-Drummond steals the limelight for a day
Australia beat Kent by 255 runs in their opening match of the Ashes tour but it was a young Kent batsman who took the plaudits
Victory soon after tea, runs and wickets for pretty much everyone and an ahead-of-schedule bus departure for Essex made this a more or less perfect warm-up fixture for the Australians. Even so, a few kinks remain to be ironed out at Chelmsford, not least those exposed by a bold and brilliant century from Daniel Bell-Drummond, very much the coming man around these parts.
Rather like Steven Smith on his first contact with England's Test team, Bell-Drummond did not make a great first impression when he was moved around the crease then struck in front of the stumps by Mitchell Johnson to depart for a duck inside the first over of Kent's reply to a hefty 507 for 8 declared. On that evidence he did not look too likely to assemble the 100-Test career Rob Key has forecast for him.
This time, however, he was quickly into stride, capitalising on the merest errors in line and length from Ryan Harris and Fawad Ahmed in particular - no fewer than 90 of his 127 runs were carved from the offerings of those two bowlers. Harris was chastened by the experience as he strode for the desired impression to leave on the selectors ahead of Cardiff: certainly Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were made to look more formidable by their absence.
But the most brutal of Bell-Drummond's treatment was saved for Fawad, who looked disappointingly unable to beat Kent's batsmen in the air, and thus was too easily picked off by strokes played on front and back foot. In the space of two overs soon after lunch, Bell-Drummond ransacked 35 runs in two Fawad overs to move from 67 to his hundred, which arrived from only his 92nd delivery - one fewer than Mitchell Marsh had taken the previous day.
The obvious talent on display was appreciated by the tourists, who applauded Bell-Drummond with scarcely less warmth than the St Lawrence Ground spectators. When he was nipped out lbw for the second time in the match, this time marginally late on a skidder from Harris, Clarke extended his arm for a congratulatory handshake. If Australia's players do not see Bell-Drummond during the Tests, they will not be surprised to be welcoming him down under for the next tour after this one.
Fawad's struggles underlined the importance of Nathan Lyon, who has watched this match from the boundary but will doubtless get a chance to roll his arm over against Essex. Lyon's ability to work as a bowler both attacking and defending will be important should England's newly assertive batsmen get through the new ball and the tourists' pacemen. Clarke ultimately turned to Smith for some overs of spin, and it was a couple of fortunate wickets for his part-timers that hurried the Australians towards victory.
Johnson and Peter Siddle put in the most serviceable bowling displays overall, the former concluding a productive match in which he underlined him claims to a place in the first Test team. And Mitchell Marsh added another wicket for the fixture, further pressing his case for consideration as the team's allrounder. Shane Watson was a muted figure in the field, and will need to bowl well next week to be assured of his place.
Kent's former Australian Mitchell Claydon dented Smith's figures and inflicted a few more indignities on Fawad in a 25-ball fifty before his departure hastened the end. An entertaining four days of cricket for Kent, and most questions at least partially answered for Australia.