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Day 3 of 3
Australia won by 135 runs.

Northants vs Australia

Aussies clinch warm-up win

Clark, Watson and McDonald put Test cases forward at Northampton

Australia congratulate McDonald at Northampton

Tour Match
Australia 308-8 dec (S R Watson 84, M E K Hussey 75) & 270-3 dec (A B McDonald 75, P J Hughes 68, G A Manou 59 no, S R Watson 50) v Northamptonshire 226-7 dec (A G Wakely 62, M H Wessels 50) & 217 (N J O'Brien 58, A B McDonald 4-15)
Australia beat Northamptonshire by 135 runs

Third Ashes Test
From Thursday July 30, Sky Sports 1/HD1 10am - or join for over-by-over commentary

Australia returned to winning ways with a 135-run victory over Northamptonshire in their three-day encounter at Wantage Road.

Handed one final opportunity to impress ahead of the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, seamer Stuart Clark and all-rounders Andrew McDonald and Shane Watson all took centre stage in what was a tough work-out against the Steelbacks.

Clark finished with match figures of 4-74 in his 23 overs bowled and put his name in the frame to replace Mitchell Johnson in Birmingham - the left-armer enduring another day to forget with figures of 1-66 from 11.

The tourists batted until lunch on the final day and, after setting Northants 353 to win from 71 overs, McDonald, who had earlier struck 75 at the top of the order, claimed 4-15 off 11 overs as the home side fell well short.

Unlikely chase

Australia were able to force an early declaration thanks to a quick-scoring second innings which included four half-centuries.

Openers McDonald and Phillip Hughes failed to cash in on their promising starts the previous day - only seven more runs were added before Northants made the breakthrough.

McDonald was 25 runs short of his century when an attempted pull at David Willey resulted in an easy catch at short cover. And Hughes (68), who could have done with a century to cement his place at the top of the Australia order, added just three more before he played on.

It was then left to Watson (50 off 35 balls) and gloveman Graham Manou, who erased memories of his first innings golden duck with an unbeaten 59, to up the ante with a rapid 74-run stand for the third wicket.

The declaration came shortly after lunch and Northants briefly hinted at pulling off a remarkable chase as openers Niall O'Brien (58) and Ben Howgego put on 99.

Left-armer pace bowler Johnson was once again in the firing line. Denied the new ball, as he was in the first innings, he thought he had a wicket in his first over. But, as O'Brien began to walk off after clipping a ball low to square-leg, he was reprieved when Simon Katich indicated it had not carried.

Once again it was Watson who came to the Aussies' rescue when he forced O'Brien into skying an attempted pick-up shot into the off-side ring to break the partnership.

Wickets tumbled

There had been no hiding place for Johnson, who conceded nine boundaries in his seven-over first spell and was unable to bowl consistently to the packed off-side field he was set.

While O'Brien struck 11 fours in his 44-ball half-century, his fellow left-hander Howgego's career-best 46 was less fluent - and he twice survived relatively routine chances off Clark.

Clark responded by having home skipper Rob White caught behind and then Alex Wakely gloved a catch down the leg-side as three wickets fell for 19 runs.

Wickets continued to tumble after tea, Howgego stalling four short of a maiden half-century when he mis-pulled McDonald to mid-off.

And when the Aussie medium-pacer deflected a Riki Wessels drive on to the non-striker's stumps to run out a backing-up Mark Nelson, Australia closed in on victory.

Match Details

24th - 26th Jul 2009
County Ground, Northampton
M J D Bodenham and M A Eggleston

northants BATTING CARD

Batsman R
Howgego c Hauritz b McDonald 46
O'Brien c Siddle b Watson 58
White c Manou b Clark 1
Wakely c Manou b Clark 1
Wessels c Manou b McDonald 33
Nelson run out 9
Willey c Katich b McDonald 2
White b McDonald 0
Lucas c Manou b Hauritz 22
Wigley c Siddle b Johnson 16
Brooks not out 10
Extras 3nb, 1w, 12b, 3lb 19
Total Close, 64.1 Overs 217
Full Batting Card

australia BOWLING CARD

Bowler O M R W
Siddle 4 1 11 0
Clark 9 1 29 2
Johnson 11.1 1 65 1
Watson 10 3 34 1
Hauritz 12 2 36 1
McDonald 11 5 15 4
North 7 1 12 0
Full Bowling Card