Aussie batsmen discover touch in time for Ashes

Frank Dalleres
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AUSTRALIA’S batsmen indicated they may not be Ashes pushovers after all yesterday, when Shane Watson and Michael Clarke rediscovered potency in their tour match against Somerset.

Watson, who is set to open when the first Ashes Test begins on 10 July, smashed 20 fours in a 94-ball 90 as the Aussies began their first innings under new coach Darren Lehmann in fluent fashion.

Captain Clarke amassed 45 on his comeback from a three-month injury absence that threatened his Ashes participation, Phil Hughes 44 not out and Brad Haddin 38 not out as they ended day two on 266-4 in reply to Somerset’s 320.

While the tourists enjoyed an encouraging performance at the crease, England batsman Kevin Pietersen was denied a much-anticipated return to international cricket in the rained-off second Twenty20 match with New Zealand.

The abandonment at the Oval after only two balls, one of which claimed opener Michael Lumb, after both sides had been reduced to five overs each, meant the Black Caps won the two-match series 1-0.

Of greater significance was Pietersen’s non-appearance, having not featured since suffering a knee injury in New Zealand in March, though he is set to feature in England’s four-day match against Essex on Sunday.

Somerset batsman Nick Compton has been handed another chance to win back his England place before the Ashes. He will make a one-off appearance for Worcestershire against Australia in a four-day match starting on Tuesday.

Batsman Eoin Morgan is set to undergo surgery today after being diagnosed with a broken finger.