Michael Clarke scores century in final Ashes build-up for Australia
Last Updated: 05/07/13 6:18pm
Australia captain Michael Clarke seems all set for the Ashes after scoring his first century of the summer on a dominant third day for the tourists against Worcestershire.
Clarke made 124 in Australia's 344-5 declared as they set Worcestershire a notional 457 to win and remained 393 ahead at stumps with the home side 64-1.
Clarke arrived in England with chronic back pain and was at one stage a doubt for the Test series, but will arrive at Trent Bridge next week in fine spirits after scoring his 124 from just 98 balls.
Despite 16 fours and three sixes it will hardly go down as one of his most memorable knocks, with a tepid Pears attack and a flat deck making life in the middle as serene as possible.
Nick Compton, who yesterday spoke of his unhappiness at his sudden dropping by England, was the man to fall for 26 and barring a selection rethink it may be the last Australia see of him.
They had earlier declared for the second time in the match having scored at better than a run-a-ball in their 344-5, Phil Hughes also helping himself to a boundary-strewn 86.
Australia's bowlers also had some success at the start of the day, claiming the final three Worcestershire wickets for 38 runs.
Ryan Harris, much improved and a shade quicker than Wednesday, took two of them, with James Faulkner wrapping things up at 284 by bowling last man Chris Russell.
That left Australia 112 ahead and they decided to open with Chris Rogers and Ed Cowan - Shane Watson's day one century clearly having been enough.
After Cowan was dropped at slip without scoring the pair added 46, Rogers taking over Watson's role as the aggressor with a series of early boundaries.
But it was Clarke's innings that was the highlights of the day, with him and Hughes having their way with the Worcestershire pace attack for some confidence-boosting runs ahead of the big one next week.