Australia’s Ashes preparations received a much-needed boost on Thursday as Test batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith hit sparkling centuries for NSW against Victoria.
NSW were bowled out for 353 at stumps on day two at the MCG, a lead of 117 in reply to Victoria’s first innings of 236 in their Sheffield Shield clash.
Smith hit 107 in a stylish knock that included 13 fours and two sixes, reaching his hundred off 160 deliveries.
Warner, who scored three hundreds in last month’s one-day domestic competition, belted 16 boundaries in his classy 87-ball knock of 104.
After averaging 23 in three Ashes Tests in England earlier this year and scoring 21 and 15 in last week’s Shield opener against Tasmania, Warner lifted his game at first-class level with a series of lusty pulls and off-drives ahead of the Gabba Ashes Test on November 21.
Leg-spinner and Test hopeful Fawad Ahmed had a shocker for Victoria, claiming 1-91 off 21 overs, not helping his chances of a Test call-up.
Hard-working paceman John Hastings was the pick of the home side’s bowlers with 5-61 from 24 overs including the prize wicket of Test captain Michael Clarke (43).
Clarke and Warner shared a crucial 104-run stand for the third wicket after the Blues had been 2-59.
In Brisbane, Australian coach Darren Lehmann had to be content with a glimpse into the future on day two of Queensland’s Sheffield Shield clash with Tasmania.
He would have liked what he saw as Chris Lynn (74 not out) and Chris Hartley (52) helped Queensland recover from 2-7 to reach 3-131 at stumps in reply to Tasmania’s 407 first dig.
Lehmann would have barely taken his seat before Tigers captain George Bailey fluffed his Test audition.
The Australian one-day skipper was caught behind off Test quick Ryan Harris early on Thursday, trudging off without adding to his overnight score of 34.
It was a missed chance for Bailey who looked to back up his one-day heroics in India on the small, batsman-friendly Allan Border Field under Lehmann’s watchful gaze.
Meanwhile, play was called off without a ball bowled on the second day of England’s four-day tour match against Australia A in Hobart.
Play will start 30 minutes earlier on Friday’s third day, although the weather forecast is for more rain.
The England openers batted through the entire opening day on Wednesday, reaching stumps at 0 for 318, with skipper Alastair Cook on 154 and Michael Carberry not out 153.