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Worcestershire frustrate Australia

Australia were denied victory in their final warm-up match before the Investec Ashes as the combination of dogged Worcestershire batting and a docile pitch ensured a draw at New Road.

With plenty of runs in the bank for the Australian batsmen and a good look at likely back-up seamers Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris, the fixture has largely served its purpose ahead of next week's first Test.

But there will be some disappointment that they were only able to pick up four wickets in the day, when five more would have delivered a morale-boosting win.

When Michael Clarke shook on a draw at 5pm, the hosts were 274 for five, skipper Daryl Mitchell and 19-year-old batsman Tom Fell having occupied 277 balls between them en route to respective scores of 54 and 62 not out.

It was the latter's maiden first-class fifty, with his only LV= County Championship innings to date resulting in a golden duck.

None of the touring attack presented an irresistible case for a Test place as they failed to get the better of the flat deck, though all-rounder James Faulkner did take the wickets of Matt Pardoe, who hit 57, and Moeen Ali before lunch.

Harris claimed the only wicket to fall in a moribund afternoon session, Alexei Kervezee dragging the ball onto middle stump, but Mitchell prevented further inroads before tea.

The evening session brought the end of the captain, whose concentration finally snapped when he top-edged Harris to mid-on.

Fell assured there would be no late collapse, with Ben Cox adding an unbeaten 25 before the draw was settled at the earliest opportunity.

With so little of note occurring in the middle, the most interesting talking points were unexpected asides.

First a spectator was ejected after throwing an apple on to the pitch as Phil Hughes attempted to field a ball in the deep.

A drinks break soon after brought the sight of Australia's new coach Darren Lehmann taking to the pitch in full whites and his old Baggy Green cap to deliver refreshments.

Finally, and rather less amusingly, Ed Cowan wore a nasty blow to the back of the head.

Cowan was engaging in the rather dangerous practice of fielding at short-leg to the erratic Steven Smith and Mitchell smacked a long-hop straight at him.

Fortunately he was able to get up and return to the same position, upon which Smith delivered another short ball, leaving Cowan to scramble to the floor as Mitchell pulled for four just over him.

The last over of the day was handed to Hughes, who has bowled 18 deliveries in his professional career.

The game almost ended in comical fashion as Fell nearly contrived to gift Hughes an unexpected wicket, only for his on-side chip to fall short of the fielder.

A stiff test awaits Australia at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. Do not expect to see Hughes turn his arm over.

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