Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc failed to strike with the new ball as Essex reached 1-170 at tea on day two of Australia’s final Ashes tune-up.
Mitch Marsh continued his eye-catching Ashes audition on Thursday by scoring 169 and helping build a commanding first-innings total of 562.
However, the allrounder couldn’t produce the same magic with the ball in Chelmsford.
Marsh was used as a first-change bowler, conceding 15 runs from two overs before he was replaced.
The 23-year-old returned to the attack later and had figures of 0-29 from four overs at tea.
Shane Watson exhibited typical control, but not out batsmen Ravi Bopara and Tom Westley always looked reasonably comfortable.
Marsh and Watson are vying for the right to be Australia’s allrounder in the first Test against England, which starts in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Darren Lehmann noted last week it would be a “tight” call as to whether Marsh or Watson feature in the series opener.
Peter Siddle was responsible for the visitors’ only source of joy in the field, bowling Jaik Mickleburgh for 29.
Hazlewood and Starc extracted good bounce from the docile pitch, but were unable to build enough pressure to create a breakthrough.
Nathan Lyon wasn’t called into the attack until the 24th over.
Bopara and Westley used their feet well against the offspinner and weren’t afraid to attack.
Lyon conceded 11 runs in his first over and had the unflattering figures of 0-54 from five overs at tea.
Michael Clarke tweaked his field regularly and recalled Starc for a two-over spell at the end of the second session.
None of it worked.
The left-armer struck Bopara on the body, but it failed to unsettle Essex’s stand-in skipper.
Bopara, who played four Tests in England’s 2009 Ashes win, was 24 at tea.
Westley was on 91, having struck 18 fours and a six.