Ton-up Marsh leads way for Australia

Shaun Marsh marked Australia’s Ashes tour of England opening match with a century against Kent at Canterbury on Thursday in a bid to retain his Test place.

Marsh made 114 and Chris Rogers — his rival for an Ashes opening spot alongside David Warner — 84, with Australia 348 for three at stumps on the first day of four.

Steven Smith, now ranked as the world’s leading Test batsman having played for Kent 2nd XI earlier in his career, was 71 not out, with Shane Watson unbeaten on eight.

Marsh replaced Rogers for Australia’s recent 2-0 series win in the Caribbean after his fellow left-handed opener was concussed while batting in the nets.

Both batsmen are now competing for a place alongside Warner ahead of the first Test against England in Cardiff on July 8.

“It was nice to get a hundred and bat a bit of time today,” Marsh told reporters. “It was hard work, early doors, the ball was swinging around.

As for his Test prospects, Marsh added: “I haven’t thought too much about selection…We’ll wait and see what happens over the next few weeks.

“It was nice batting out there with Chris. I thought we worked really well together. He’s been really helpful.”

– Hunn treble –

The 21-year-old Matt Hunn, in only his fourth match at this level, took all three wickets to fall in a return of three for 78 in 21 overs, and dismissed Australia captain Michael Clarke (56) shortly before the close.

“It was really pleasing,” said Hunn, adding this day had been “definitely the best so far” of his career.

“It was tough, there’s no margin for error at all,” added the seamer, now in his second season on Kent’s staff.

“But it’s good to test yourself against the best because then you know where you are at.”

It looked a good pitch to bat on but, with Kent bottom of the Second Division of the County Championship, home skipper Sam Northeast’s decision after winning the toss to delay his side’s confrontation with an Australia attack featuring fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle was understandable.

Rogers apologised on Wednesday after he unwittingly contravened ground regulations by trying to re-sell tickets for next month’s second Test at Lord’s as part of a hospitality package.

But he said the incident would not affect his cricket and he proved as good as his word during a 150-ball innings, with 11 fours, although he was dropped in the slips on 21 by Adam Riley off Australia-born paceman Mitchell Claydon.

But 16 runs shy of a hundred, Rogers was lbw playing back to Hunn to end a first-wicket stand of 181.

Marsh, the son of former Australia opener Geoff Marsh, completed an untroubled century off 172 balls including 12 fours.

But shortly after tea he was out for his interval score of 114 when he holed out off Hunn to deep point.

Smith kept the runs coming with an 80-ball fifty including four fours and a six.

There was a bizarre incident during the final session of play when a spectator pitched a one-person tent on the outfield and went inside it before emerging in a pair of shorts and flying helmet.

He returned to his tent before emerging again and being escorted off the outfield by security staff.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like that,” said Hunn. “It was quite funny.”

Clarke, driving the ball fluently, went to his fifty in 68 balls with eight fours.

But Hunn struck again when he had Clarke caught down the legside by wicket-keeper Sam Billings.

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