Michael Clarke has been struggling for runs so far against England in Ashes 2015 © Getty Images
Michael Clarke has been struggling for runs so far against England in Ashes 2015 © Getty Images

Derby: Australia captain Michael Clarke got in some batting practice ahead of the third Ashes Test against England as a tour match with Derbyshire petered out into a draw on Saturday. Clarke, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, has been struggling for runs so far against England this tour with a top score of 38 in four Test innings. He decided to give himself extra time in the middle on Saturday’s third and final day by promoting himself to open after opting against enforcing the follow-on. Clarke was 44 not out in an Australia second innings total of 95 for one in 24.1 overs when he offered a draw, even though there was still roughly an hour-and-a-half left in the day’s play. Clarke batted for 96 minutes and faced 74 balls, including eight fours.

However, he was not at his fluent best and should have been out for 19 when wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein dropped a chance off teenage debutant Will Davis, who dismissed Clarke for 16 in the first innings. Earlier, Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh took four for 41 as Derbyshire were dismissed for 259 in the tourists’ final match before the third Test starts at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground on Wednesday. Derbyshire were 154 runs adrift of Australia’s first innings 413 for nine declared, which featured hundreds by openers David Warner and Shaun Marsh.

Derbyshire’s Tony Palladino, primarily a seam bowler, top-scored with 82 off just 68 balls, including eight fours and four sixes. Together with David Wainwright (38) he put on 105 for the eighth wicket. Although Clarke could have enforced the follow-on, as Derbyshire were not within 150 runs of the tourists’ first innings score, he chose to bat again instead.  The only wicket Derbyshire managed on Saturday came when Shaun Marsh, Mitchell’s older brother, retired at tea on 30.

Derbyshire resumed Saturday on 81 for two with skipper Wayne Madsen 14 not out and Scott Elstone unbeaten on 13. Mitchell Marsh, who impressed in Australia’s Ashes-levelling 405-run win in the second Test against at Lord’s last week after Shane Watson was dropped following England’s 169-run victory in the series opener in Cardiff, took two early wickets on Saturday. The fast-medium bowler had Elstone (19) caught in the gully by Warner and, four legitimate balls later, pinned Madsen lbw for 19.

He struck again when he had Tom Knight well caught low down at second slip by Voges. Derbyshire were then 104 for five, with Marsh having taken three wickets for nine runs in 19 balls. But Wainwright and Palladino kept Australia at bay with an entertaining partnership. Palladino, 37 not out at lunch, completed his fifty by hoisting leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed for two sixes and a four in three successive deliveries.

Mitchell Marsh broke the stand when he had Wainwright caught by second slip Clarke. The 32-year-old Palladino struck Ahmed legside for six to go to 82. But, in sight of what would have been just his second first-class hundred, Palladino holed out off Ahmed next ball when he tried to repeat the shot. Ahmed finished the innings with three for 68 in 20.3 overs.

But with Australia resting their front line fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, as well as off-spinner Nathan Lyon, Marsh was the only member of the attack on Saturday set to play at Edgbaston. Australia hold the Ashes after whitewashing England 5-0 on home soil in 2013-14. The ongoing five-match series is all square at 1-1, with Australia looking to win their first Ashes campaign in Britain for 14 years.