Mitch Marsh has added another 136 runs to his case for a Test recall, making it back-to-back tons on the Ashes tour.
Darren Lehmann noted last week it would be a “tight” call as to whether Marsh or incumbent allrounder Shane Watson feature in the series opener on July 8.
It got a whole lot tighter in Chelmsford on day one of the four-day clash with Essex, Australia’s final tune-up before the real stuff starts in Cardiff.
There is little more that Marsh could have done to put the heat on Watson during the UK’s hottest July day on record.
If his side’s struggles with the bat were more profound, Marsh’s steadying influence would have been more impressive.
As it was, he was unbeaten at stumps having pushed the tourists from 4-204 to 6-440.
There were three lives in the 151-ball dig – a fumbled chance on the rope plus two grassed catches by Nick Browne.
But Watson, who scored 52 and chopped on a wide ball from Ryan ten Doeschate, also received a reprieve on 10.
Last week Marsh blasted a 93-ball century against an impotent attack on a docile pitch, when the game against Kent had already become a glorified training session on day three.
It was an incredible display of power hitting – Marsh reached triple figures by scoring 77 runs in the same time Watson managed five.
This time around the contest still had a bit of sting in it.
Yes, Jesse Ryder was handed the new ball to send down some dibbly-dobblers.
Yes, stand-in skipper Ravi Bopara noted after sending the visitors in he couldn’t remember a better Chelmsford wicket in some time.
Yet Australia were in genuine trouble early despite a dashing 94 from David Warner.
Chris Rogers was caught behind for 21, but clearly thought he didn’t hit it.
Michael Clarke batted at No.3 in the absence of Steve Smith, but departed for a golden duck when he clipped the ball straight to ten Doeschate at leg gully.
Watson looked in good touch as he raced to 50 in 46 balls, but it didn’t last.
Adam Voges was calm and measured, but marched back to the pavilion on 49 after a mix-up with Marsh.
Marsh knuckled down early, paying the situation the respect it deserved save for the slices of luck.
The 23-year-old then opened his shoulders and brought up three figures by smashing a ball over the head of left-arm spinner Aron Nijjar and into the roof of a food stall.