Ashes 2015: Australia's Mitchell Marsh hits century against Essex

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Chelmsford
Mitchell Marsh
Mitchell Marsh struck 15 fours and five sixes in his unbeaten 136 off 151 balls
Tour match, Chelmsford
Australia 440-6: Marsh 146*, Warner 94, Nevill 78
Essex yet to bat

Mitchell Marsh further pushed his claim for a place in the Australia Test side with a century on the first day of their final Ashes warm-up at Essex.

Marsh, who also scored a hundred against Kent last week, was unbeaten on 136 as Australia racked up 440-6.

Marsh faces competition from Shane Watson, who made 52, for the first Test against England starting on 8 July.

Opener David Warner crashed a sparkling 94, Adam Voges a composed 49 and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill 78.

If Marsh clarified Australian thoughts through weight of runs, then the make-up of their pace attack for the first Test in Cardiff also became clear, albeit for a different reason.

Ashes schedule
8-12 July: First Test, Cardiff
16-20 July: Second Test, Lord's
29 July - 2 August: Third Test, Edgbaston
6-10 August: Fourth Test, Trent Bridge
20-24 August: Fifth Test, The Oval

Ryan Harris was due to play against Essex at Chelmsford, but pulled out with soreness related to a long-term knee problem, meaning Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are likely to form the tourists' Test pace trio.

The news on Harris was confirmed before a toss where Essex captain Ravi Bopara - perhaps in a pre-arranged agreement - invited Australia to bat on a scorching hot day.

On a true pitch showing occasional signs of bounce, the tourists made the most of the Essex hospitality against a line-up in which four of the bowlers had played only 28 previous first-class matches between them.

The hosts stuck to their task and did not help themselves with five dropped catches but, in the main, this was a day of batting practice for Australia.

Clarke first-ball wicket 'amazing'

Still, they wobbled midway through the morning session when Tom Moore - playing only his fifth first-class match after signing from club side Brentwood last summer - struck twice in two balls.

Chris Rogers was caught behind for 21 and Australia captain Michael Clarke was brilliantly caught at leg gully by Ryan ten Doeschate for a golden duck.

At the other end, Warner was unaffected, with flowing drives and powerful cuts leaving him set for a hundred before lunch until he guided Jamie Porter to gully for 94.

Watson, dropped on 10, dealt mainly in boundaries before he dragged Ten Doeschate on to his stumps, while Voges played a chanceless knock before being run out in a mix-up with Marsh.

Marsh was put down on the deep square leg fence on 15, but went on to play an array of drives and lofts down the ground from the spinners.

Again reprieved on 98 as Nick Browne missed a caught and bowled opportunity, he brought up a 118-ball hundred with his fifth six.

He was dropped once more by Browne, this time at second slip, on 128 before Nevill was caught down the leg side off Jesse Ryder to signal the end of the day.

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