Aussie bats fail to fire in Ashes audition
A made-to-order wicket at Southampton delivered the exact test Australian coach Justin Langer wanted for his men ahead of the quest for a first Ashes win in England in nearly two decades.
But unfortunately only his bowlers passed in the unprecedented arena of an all-Australian match as batsmen marched one after the other back to the pavilion with only a lone inspiring effort among them.
The final tally for the day was an ugly 17-201 between the two teams, on a dry pitch that did plenty from the start, with the opening ensemble, captained by Travis Head, rolled for just 105.
A 41 from Marnus Labuschagne in the first innings of the day looked worthy of a century as only two of his teammates reached double figures, and both only scored 14 each.
Left-handers in particular struggled with the six recognised batsmen scoring a grand total of just 29 runs. Matthew Wade, who made 10, was the only leftie to reach double-figures.
Australia's most likely top six for the first Test would contain at least four left-handers, which could help elevate Labuschagne, who is a right-hander and is the leading run-scorer in county cricket this season, in to the batting line-up for Birmingham.
"Obviously a tough day. But there were some positives," Labuschagne said after the seven and a half-hour day.
"The bowlers bowled really well in both teams.
"Personally it was good, but 41 is not one of those big hundreds we want to get."
The rot for the batsmen set in early.
In his first red-ball outing since the infamous Cape Town Test last year, David Warner was out for just four, followed closely by Marcus Harris for six.
Their pairing at the top of the order did give an insight in to the preferred opening combination for the first Ashes Test, and the would-be challengers did little to break them up.
Batting second Cameron Bancroft (17) and Joe Burns (18) at least batted beyond 15 overs but struggled to score, as did every other batsmen for the day.
Instead it was the bowlers who stood out, particularly James Pattinson who only took one wicket but looked as menacing as Langer could have hoped for, and Pat Cummins.
Pattinson hit Warner in the ribs in his first over, and looked likely to snare a wicket nearly every ball.
Cummins was equally as awesome in the afternoon taking 3-15 to demonstrate the calibre of attack Australia will hit England with.
Veteran seamer Peter Siddle, a strong contender for the fifth fast bowling position in the squad, took 3-20 to add to his cause, while Jackson Bird claimed 3-28.
All-rounder Michael Neser produced the bets figures, taking 4-18 after opening the bowling in the morning. His return put him ahead in the all-rounder battle, should selectors opt for one, but then Mitch Marsh made 29 batting later in the day to press his claims.
Bird revealed Langer's simple pre-match advice to Australia's Ashes aspirants. "He basically told us not everyone is going to be successful in making the squad, go out there and enjoy it, back ourselves and play the way we've played in the past to get to this position," Bird said.
"It's a weird situation we haven't been in before but everyone's really embraced it.
"It was obviously a poor day out for the batters but I think the bowling group took a lot out of it.
"Our batters are all world class … we expect they'll bounce back in the next three days."
The match was supposed to finish on Friday and precede the naming of a squad which for the most part seemed locked in.
But that squad naming could be moved forward, although it could also need more consideration after a day of carnage.