Another collapse for Aussies in tour game

Australia’s wretched Ashes tour lurched deeper into the abyss at Northampton, where they were underwhelming with bat and ball in a tour game.

The three-day clash was supposed to be a tune-up for the fifth Test, which starts at the Oval on Thursday.

Instead day one was washed out and day two was dominated by Northamptonshire, the locals scoring freely and quickly to compile a total of 396.

In response, Australia were 5-125 at lunch on day three after captain-elect Steve Smith was out for a duck.

The visitors resumed on Sunday at 1-13.

They continued to look a side low on motivation, playing a match devoid of meaning.

It started with Smith.

Smith will assume the captaincy after the fifth Test, but was leading the side in the fixture due as Michael Clarke was rested.

Smith lasted six balls before prodding at a delivery from Maurice Chambers, the resultant edge flying to keeper David Murphy.

Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges were also out edging, while Shane Watson was trapped lbw by Ben Sanderson.

Watson’s dismissal capped a horrible collapse of 5-74.

It came against an inexperienced Northamptonshire attack, hardly a harbinger of hope for the tourists as they prepare to face Stuart Broad in London.

Mitch Marsh was unbeaten on 40 at lunch.

Marsh, who is expected to be recalled for the upcoming dead rubber, had already underlined his importance to the XI with a haul of 4-56.

The allrounder top-scored for Australia, but even he had a nervous moment on 25.

Marsh rushed off for a single from the non-striker’s end, but would have been found well short of his ground had Steven Crook’s throw hit the stumps.

Clarke, Chris Rogers, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were rested from the fixture.

Coach Darren Lehmann admitted last week it was a mistake to leave Marsh out of the XI that lost by an innings and 78 runs at Trent Bridge.

Australia relinquished the urn with that defeat, England having taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-Test series.

It’s not the first time the East Midlands town has been a source of angst for Australia.

Northamptonshire forced Don Bradman’s 1930 tourists to follow on, while Bishen Bedi’s left-arm spin helped them defeat Ian Chappell’s side in 1972.

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