Marcus North all but booked his place in Australia’s side for next week’s first Ashes Test after making a century in his final innings before the series opener with England.
North finished the third day of the four-day tour match against the second-string England Lions at New Road on 106 not out.
His score was the centerpiece of a second innings total that saw Australia end Friday on 276 for four, a lead of 282 runs.
Meanwhile, Stephen Harmison also reinforced his claims for England’s third quick berth in the first Test at Cardiff by skittling out Australian rookie Phillip Hughes and captain Ricky Ponting. Durham quick Harmison, dropped by England in the Caribbean earlier this year, took two wickets for 36 runs to add to his first innings four for 80.
Melbourne-born left-hander North, who had scored 1, 11 and 1 in his three previous warm-up innings on this tour, made his Ashes spot certain with a resolute, 168-ball ton over almost four hours.
Michael Clarke, Australia’s vice-captain, also played assuredly for his 80, before holing out to the long-on boundary from Vikram Solanki’s gentle spinners in the shadows of stumps.
However, this match has had a sobering effect on rising star Hughes, who can expect plenty of short stuff in Cardiff after being bounced out for the second time in as many innings by a fired up Harmison.
Hughes has enjoyed a stellar start to his international career and had a prolific spell with county side Middlesex earlier this season, but he has appeared vulnerable to the well-directed bouncer during this match.
The 20-year-old left-handed opener again faced a short-pitched barrage before Harmison, bowling from around the wicket, cramped Hughes and a catch flew to second slip Eoin Morgan off the batsman’s gloves.
Harmison then had Ponting, driving away from his body, caught in the gully for 15.
Uncapped leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who earlier scored 10 fours in a classy innings of 66, dismissed Simon Katich (37) thanks to a wonderful reflex catch from Stephen Moore at bat-pad.
Earlier, the tourists’ pace trio needed 75 minutes to claim the Lions’ final four wickets, with Rashid’s half-century adding to Moore’s 120 and half-centuries from Joe Denly and Steven Davies on the second day.
Brett Lee was denied his best-ever first class bowling figures when wicketkeeper Brad Haddin spilled his second straightforward catch of the game, putting down Harmison toward the end of the Lions’ innings.
Haddin dropped Lions centurion Moore on 41 on Thursday.
Lee had earlier roughed up Sajid Mahmood, before sending him packing with his next delivery when the ball ricocheted off the Lancashire bowler’s shoulder and hit the stumps.
The 32-year-old pace man seems certain to have booked a spot in Australia’s line-up for the first Test after returning figures of six wickets for 76 runs in 27 overs with a venomous burst of pace and swing.
Mitchell Johnson (one for 118) struck in his first over with the second new ball when Tim Bresnan played onto leg-stump, while Stuart Clark finished with two for 40 as the Lions came within six runs of Australia’s first innings 358.
KEY GOAL: Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei is now free to focus on taking her fourth doubles title of the year with Barbora Strycova; they are due to face Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya Taiwanese No. 1 Hsieh Su-wei on Monday returned to the court for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the WTA Tour, falling to a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, who made a solid transition from the hard courts in New York to the clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “I’m not sure how well I adapted, to be honest,” Mertens told the WTA Web site. “I just feel like I might still be struggling a little. It was also [Hsieh’s] first match of the week, so that was a bit of an
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first