More angst for Aussies in Ashes tour game

Mitch Marsh has underlined his importance to Australia as their wretched Ashes tour continues on a day of toil in Northampton.

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

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

Adelaide-born Steven Crook posted his highest first-class score of 142no off 96 balls, while Kyle Coetzer fell 14 runs short of a century after Steve Smith sent the hosts in.

Marsh finished with 4-56 from 14 overs.

The allrounder was already expected to return for next week’s dead rubber.

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.

Marsh’s medium pace dismissed Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes in the second Test, while Saturday was another salient reminder of its value.

Peter Siddle and Pat Cummins were both keen to push for a Test recall after being handed the new ball in the absence of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

They both failed to strike early, although Cummins would have had a wicket in the 15th over if Adam Voges held an edge.

Marsh was instead responsible for Australia’s initial breakthrough in the 24th over, trapping Ben Duckett lbw with his first ball.

The 23-year-old was on a hat-trick in the middle session, when he dismissed Rob Keogh and captain Josh Cobb.

Keogh’s stumps were rearranged, while Voges snaffled an edge at first slip to dismiss Cobb.

Smith later entrusted Marsh with the second new ball, a decision backed up with the scalp of Ben Sanderson.

As the wickets tumbled, Crook teed off with style and success.

He moved past 50 by hammering 18 runs off Nathan Lyon’s 16th over.

He then reached three figures by helping himself to 18 runs off a Marsh over.

The 32-year-old who represented South Australia at under-17 and under-19 level was dropped by Shane Watson.

He was left stranded when Cummins trapped Richard Gleeson lbw to end the locals’ innings.

Cummins also dismissed Maurice Chambers and George Munsey to clean up the tail, while he struck Sanderson on the helmet in a fiery afternoon spell.

Legspinner Fawad Ahmed continued a miserable tour, his six overs costing 48 runs.

Lyon’s offspin was more productive, dismissing Coetzer, Saif Zaib and David Murphy.

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