In a Test match moving inexorably towards another lopsided result, it was a most curious passage. David Warner and Shaun Marsh, makeshift opening partners both short of exposure to the red ball, were made to fight tremendously hard for their innings against the West Indies bowlers and a deteriorating Sabina Park pitch.

If there was little pressure inherent in the wider match situation, plenty existed in the individual battles being played out. Warner and Marsh each had reasons to feel challenged by the situation, and they were made to look decidedly uncomfortable by Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach and Jason Holder.

Eventually, Warner and then Marsh managed to ease into something like a decent batting rhythm, and their century opening stand was a case of determination winning out over self-doubt and the difficulty of the conditions. But both would be dismissed before they had definitively answered the questions being asked of them, leaving the national selectors and team management with a few things to ponder between now and the first Ashes Test.

Warner had preluded this match by speaking frankly and extensively about his evolving place in the team and as a cricketer and man. While much attention was drawn to his stated desire to keep a lower profile both in the field and around the squad, there was also a pointed expression of resolve to ensure he fashioned a reliable game that balanced attack and defence, aggression with occupation.

This is not the first time Warner has gone down this sort of path, though not successfully. In 2012 and 2013 he lost much of his trademark ability to throw bowlers off with his punchy play, and poor series in India and England ran parallel to off-field misadventures that seriously threatened his future in Australian cricket. Two years on and it is clear Warner wants to find a way to succeed in all conditions, having shown himself to be formidable on fast surfaces but less so elsewhere.

Rapid third-innings hundreds had become something of a Warner habit in recent times. Over the past 18 months he had notched them in Brisbane, Perth, Centurion, Cape Town and Adelaide, all helping Australia along to victories. At Sabina Park, though, sufficient time remained for a different type of innings, one where Warner took the chance to find his feet and tried to bed down a method less given to early edges.

The prominent seam of the Dukes ball has been a source of some difficulty for Warner, and it stood to reason that he would try to find a way of riding out his innings so that he would be around to capitalise later on. In this he appeared to be taking a leaf from the book of Steven Smith, so prolific over those same 18 months and now the man anointed as Michael Clarke's captaincy successor. It is abundantly clear that Warner is desperate to succeed in England, and he will only be able to do that if he can find a way of negotiating the new ball - if he looked awkward and even a little stilted here, it was for reasons of personal development.

At the other end, Marsh also fought for fluency. Two weeks ago during the Antigua tour match he appeared to have cemented his place with a smooth hundred, before Chris Rogers' blow and Adam Voges' brilliance rather complicated things. Voges' debut performance was particularly ominous, for it more or less locked away the one remaining middle-order spot, and left Marsh to compete with Rogers at the top of the order.

Marsh's method does not appear ideally suited to dealing with the swinging, seaming ball in England, so he needed to at least make a score in Jamaica to leave the selectors weighing up his merits for future assignments. Watching in the commentary box having completed his selection duties for the tour, Mark Waugh expressed relief that the choice would be his chairman Rod Marsh's problem on the other side of the Atlantic.

"It's going to be a tough decision," Waugh told Ian Bishop on the broadcast. "All we can ask of a player is if they get an opportunity they perform and if they perform they give the selectors a headache, basically. It's going to be a very tough decision. I'm not going to answer who's going to play in the first Test because it's going to be up to Rod Marsh and Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke who are in England.

"But it gives a big headache for the selectors. Adam Voges has come in and taken his opportunity, got a tremendous hundred. As a player and a selector you can only ask for performances when a player gets a chance. And then you've got to weigh up the opposition, the pitch with the final composition of the XI. I'm not going to answer your question directly, sorry."

Waugh's hesitance to let his opinion be fully known was most out of character. Throughout the match, television viewers have been treated to plenty of unsweetened opinions. Waugh views have included an assertion that Australia could play far better than they showed in Dominica, an expression of delight at Nathan Lyon's fluent work in both innings, and a thinly veiled reaction of disgust at an lbw HawkEye ruled out for bounce that seemed unlikely at best.

His relative lack of candour about the Rogers/Marsh/Voges conundrum was a telling indicator of how it will be occupying the thoughts of many around the team over the next few weeks, and further reason for Marsh to keep his head down. Once he and Warner were dismissed, Clarke and Smith knocked the ball around until the captain felt it was time to declare, and the procession of West Indian wickets resumed.

Whatever the conclusion of the match, in months to come it may well be that the halting stand between Warner and Marsh gains in significance. The memory of two batsmen struggling to find their way here will be of tremendous value if the sweat of day three at Sabina results in more certain methods in Cardiff and beyond.