The Sunday Leader

Aussies in Control against Kent

  • Australian XI vs Kent

Vice-captain Steve Smith scored a century before paceman Mitchell Johnson claimed three wickets as Australia took control of their Ashes warm-up match against Kent at the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury.

Smith, who once played here for Kent 2nd XI in 2007, helped the tourists post a commanding first-innings total of 507 for eight declared.

Johnson then struck in the final ball of his first over, dismissing Daniel Bell-Drummond leg before wicket, only for former England batsman Robert Key to lead some resistance with 87.

However, Australia’s persistence paid off after tea, as Johnson took two more wickets to leave the hosts at 203 for five and still facing a huge deficit heading into the third day.

Queenslander Johnson finished with figures of three for 42 from 13 overs, with three maidens.

Earlier in the day, Smith quickly picked up where Australia had left off as he moved swiftly on from his overnight 71, the tourists resuming at 348 for three following 114 from opener Shaun Marsh.

The 26-year-old closed in on three figures with a string of boundaries before retiring at 111. Smith’s 19th first-class century had come off 152 balls, with 11 fours and one six.

Kent’s attack, led again by 21-year-old Matt Hunn, then made some headway as Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh were both removed before lunch, by which time the tourists had reached 477 for six.

Johnson got some useful time in the middle with an unbeaten 32 when Australia eventually declared.

Australia had enjoyed a productive opening day on the Spitfire Ground wicket which was set up for batting, a half-century from captain Michael Clarke adding to 84 from opener Chris Rogers and Marsh’s fine knock.

For most of Friday’s opening session, Kent again struggled to make a breakthrough as Smith set about the attack.

Hunn, though, did get some joy with a shorter delivery which saw Watson (21) caught superbly at point by Joe Denly to leave Australia 419 for five.

Wicket-keeper Brad Haddin joined Marsh, who was soon clean bowled by Hunn for 30, off just 26 balls, in the 109th over, Australia at 438 for six.

Kent claimed another wicket early in the afternoon session when Haddin was caught at slip by Adam Ball off Adam Riley for 35, to put Australia 498 for seven.

When Ryan Harris was caught behind by England wicketkeeper Sam Billings for nine, the tourists declared.

Hunn finished with five for 99 off 27 overs, three maidens, in what was only his fourth first-class match.

After Johnson had trapped Bell-Drummond, Kent settled to reach tea at 72 for one.

Following the restart, Peter Siddle had opener Denly edged behind for 36, with Kent at 81 for two.

Kent, bottom of the LV= County Championship Division Two, moved into treble figures before captain Sam Northeast, who has signed a new long-term deal, was caught behind off Johnson for 25, the total at 140 for three.

Key, whose last Test appearance came against South Africa in January 2005, eventually departed when caught by Marsh off leg spinner Fawad Ahmed, his 87 coming from 108 balls and 15 fours.

Ben Harmison was then clean bowled by Johnson for five. By stumps, Sam Billings was 24 not out and Adam Ball 21 as Kent trailed by 304 runs with five wickets in hand.

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