Australia 374 for 6 dec and 226 for 2 (Katich 63, Langer 86*) drew with Northamptonshire 169 (Phillips 39*, McGrath 3-24)
Australia warmed up for the fourth Test by dismissing Northamtonshire for just 169, on day two of their tour match, before allowing Simon Katich to make some useful runs ahead of the fourth Test on Thursday. Shaun Tait, who replaced Jason Gillespie and who is fighting for a Test place with Mike Kasprowicz, bowled with menace and took the first two wickets of the day, to improve his hopes of inclusion at Trent Bridge.
Tait was expensive, conceding 52 runs from his 14 overs, but his pace was too much for Tim Roberts. He struck the opener on the head with a brutal ball, which drew blood and caused Roberts to retire hurt for 18. Tait then removed Usman Afzaal, shortly followed by Northants' captain David Sales for a duck, perishing to a yorker. Kasprowicz, meanwhile, only picked up a single wicket, that of Riki Wessels. Wickets continued to tumble, with Glenn McGrath back to his metonomic best, taking three for 24 from 11 overs, and Northants were grateful for a battling innings by Ben Phillips, who remained unbeaten on 37.
Phillips, like Roberts, was struck on the head - this time by McGrath - and he too retired hurt, albeit briefly. He struck a clutch of boundaries on his return to the crease but, despite his brave innings, he ran out of partners and his side were bundled out in just 50 overs for 169. The encouraging display of Tait was tempered, however, when he was forced off the field after being struck just below the knee in his follow-through, by Phillips.
Australia promoted Simon Katich to open the innings, and they cruised to their hundred at 4 runs per over. Katich's top score, in his last four Test innings, is 17, so his knock of 63 today was a welcome relief to the left-hander. He fell to Jason Brown, but Justin Langer continued his good form with an undefeated 86, in a partnership worth 114 runs with Damien Martyn, as Australia ended on 226 for two.