Thumping win for Australia at Chelmsford
Australia completed their preparations for the five-match NatWest Series against England with a hugely convincing 179-run win over Essex.
Touring skipper Michael Clarke and David Hussey both struck half-centuries, the former retiring out on 76 and the latter striking 67 from 66 balls, as Australia posted 313 for nine.
Essex, with England ODI captain Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara in their ranks, were well off the pace in reply and stumbled to 134 all out in 32.4 overs. Teenage paceman Pat Cummins was the pick of Australia’s attack with 3-26.
Cook's hopes of having a good look at Australia’s bowling attack were ruined by Clint McKay in the fourth over of the Essex innings.
After an imperious shot to the cover boundary from the second delivery, he fell to the sixth as an intended drive was edged to Michael Clarke at first slip.
Cook's contribution was five from 15 deliveries and his removal from the scene severely dented the county's hopes of mounting a serious challenge.
Bopara fared better and struck six fours before dabbing an easy catch behind off Shane Watson.
James Foster defied Australia for 36 balls in compiling 41, which contained six fours, but the 19-year-old Cummins had him caught by Steve Smith at backward point, before the rest of Essex’s line-up folded meekly.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Australia's major batsmen all managed to get among the runs before Friday's opening ODI.
Watson and David Warner produced an opening stand of 51 in just under seven overs before departing for 33 and 26 respectively.
Warner drilled Graham Napier to Ryan ten Doeschate at midwicket while Watson was the first of Reece Topley's four victims when he was caught behind.
It was skipper Clarke and Hussey who provided the backbone of the innings without looking in the slightest trouble.
Eschewing any risks, they found the gaps with ease while putting together a partnership of 137 in 20 overs.
That ended only when Clarke, having struck 76 in 73 balls with the aid of nine fours, decided to retire to give others a taste of action out in the middle.
Hussey's innings of 67 from 66 deliveries, six of which he hit for fours, ended when he despatched left-arm spinner Tim Phillips to Bopara at deep cover, a dismissal that paved the way for Matthew Wade to inflict further punishment on Essex's toiling bowlers.
He helped himself to 47 from 43 balls, Napier finally bringing his innings to an end when Foster took a huge skier running towards square-leg.
Topley, the young left-arm paceman, picked up 4-46 from eight overs to emerge as Essex's most successful bowler while Napier and Phillips each claimed two wickets.