Tait stakes claim for test place

If the first day of this two-day affair had provided little more than an opportunity for Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke to help themselves to large hundreds against Northants’ powder-puff attack, the second day promised to be more interesting. Given Jason Gillespie’s absence from this game and, in all probability, the next test, it looked likely to be a shoot-out for the fourth bowling place between the experience of Michael Kasprowicz and the exciting potential Shaun Tait. If so, then the youngster may well have done enough to claim a place in Thursday’s line up.

Tait’s first meaningful contribution today was to cause Tim Roberts to retire hurt after hitting him on the head. Suitably encouraged, he then removed two of Northants’ better batsmen in quick succession. First, he had Usman Afzaal caught by Katich for 15, and almost immediately yorked David Sales for a duck. Kasprowicz then had Riki Wessels caught behind, which only left Lee and McGrath to finish off the tail. The only resistance came from Ben Phillips, who after being struck on the head by McGrath, returned to hit a belligerent unbeaten 37. In the process, he sent Tait back to the changing room after belting a straight drive back at the bowler and hitting him just below the knee.

Given 58 overs batting practice, Australia sent in Simon Katich and Brad Hodge to open their second innings. Hodge was run out for 24 and Katich made 63 before falling to Jason Brown’s off-spin. The remainder of the day was spent watching Justin Langer and Damien Martyn add 114 before time was called on proceedings.

Australia 374 for 6 declared
Hayden 136, Clarke 121

Northants 169
Phillips 37*, McGrath 3 for 24, Lee 2 for 30, Tait 2 for 52

Australia 226 for 2
Langer 86*, Katich 63, Martyn 43*

Match drawn

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