Ashes tour game interrupted by rain

Daniel Bell-Drummond smacked an entertaining century as Australia’s momentum finally stalled in the opening game of their Ashes tour.

Michael Clarke declared overnight at 4-322 in Canterbury, setting Kent a target of 550 in the four-day fixture that long ago became a glorified practice session.

Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris were unable to strike with the new ball.

Bell-Drummond needed only 92 balls to reach three figures, with most of the damage coming in two overs from Fawad Ahmed that cost 35 runs.

As rain started to fall, Harris trapped the opener lbw with a ball that kept low.

The players were ordered off St Lawrence Ground late in the second session with Kent 4-203.

Peter Siddle impressed the most in Sunday’s morning session, uprooting opener Joe Denly’s middle stump with a cracking delivery.

Legspinner Ahmed removed Rob Key, who was caught at wide mid-on.

Mitch Marsh then continued his strong showing by dismissing captain Sam Northeast, who was out edging.

On day three, Marsh heaped further pressure on Shane Watson with an aggressive century.

Clarke promoted himself, Watson and Marsh up the order – given all three men missed out on a big score in the first innings.

Watson crafted a score of 81 and it wasn’t as if the temporary first drop played poorly until picking out substitute Sam Weller in the deep.

The 34-year-old’s problem – aside from the niggle that prevented his bowling in this game – is that he was overshadowed by the other all-rounder in Australia’s 17-man squad.

Marsh smacked a terrific ton, belting five sixes and 12 fours – all but one of the boundaries coming after tea as the right-hander helped himself to 93 runs off 64 balls.

“There’s not much you can do,” Northeast said of the 102-minute masterclass.

“It’s the Australian mentality, they’re very attacking players.

“They just keep running at you and running at you.”

To put the rampage in perspective, Marsh reached triple figures by scoring 77 runs in the same time Watson managed five.

Marsh’s maiden century for Australia was against an impotent attack on a lifeless pitch, but nonetheless adds further intrigue to the selection debate.

The duo’s showdown is one of many challenging decisions that national selectors must make before the Ashes starts in Cardiff on July 8.

Openers Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh were both among the runs against Kent and will be hard to separate.

Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all have strong claims when it comes to the three pace berths.

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