Second day: Australia have scored 406 for nine against Worcestershire

Worcestershire experienced a chastening day at New Road as Australia geared up for the second Test with a dominant display of batting.

The hosts stated aim before this game was to make life "as hard as possible" for Australia. Instead the hosts learnt a harsh lesson about the tiny margin for error permissible at the top level.

Perhaps there were a few positive signs for England. Michael Clarke fell early, pushing half forward to a straight delivery, while Simon Katich played around a ball that turned a fraction. Ricky Ponting, too, flourished only briefly before pushing at one outside the off-stump and edging to slip after Brad Hodge was superbly caught slapping a long-hop to point.

And perhaps, if Worcestershire had accepted either of the two chances offered by Brad Haddin, Australia might have been bowled out much more cheaply.

Instead, however, their bowlers conceded more than four an over in a one-sided day. On a pitch offering some help to the seamers, the tally of 65 fours and four sixes from yesterday's play speaks volumes.

For much of the day Worcestershire made the tourists work hard for their runs. Matt Mason, everreliable and ever-willing, demanded respect, and the fielding was sharp.

But the final session - of 39 overs - realised 200 runs as the attack was dismantled and Vikram Solanki looked quite helpless as he tried to stem the flow.

Ball rarely beat the bat in the opening session, with Matt Hayden and Justin Langer taking the opportunity of a through work-out before the Test. Though Langer went just five balls after the interval, well held as he glanced down the legside, Hayden's dismissal - pulling violently - bore the hallmark of someone who thought they'd batted long enough.

Australia made light of a mid-innings stutter when they lost three for 30. The seventh-wicket pair added 123 in 27 overs as batting became an increasingly comfortable business against an attack that lacked the discipline to apply any pressure.

Brad Haddin, New South Wales' captain, and the reserve keeper on this tour, showed a glittering repertoire of shots as he seized his rare opportunity in the middle.

This is likely to remain his only first-class innings, so it was perhaps excusable that he played and missed early on. Thereafter Haddin (96 balls, 16 fours and a six) produced an array of delicious shots, the pick of which was a sublime late-cut off Kabir that would have pleased Viv Richards.

He was missed twice. The first chance, on eight, was a tough caught and bowled chance offered to Kabir. But the second, to Nadeem Malik a long-on off Ray Price on 61, was simple. Malik's fielding requires urgent attention; it currently is some way below the high standard of his colleagues.

Jason Gillespie (84 balls, two sixes, six fours) impressed, too. Usually barnacle like in defence, he thumped two legside sixes and lofted Price back over his head to further pain a dispirited attack.

It was a particularly disappointing day for Kabir. Though he started the season on the brink of the international side, this performance can only have harmed his chances. He conceded more than six an over, with the wicket of Ricky Ponting, edging a push at one that held its own, the only mitigation.

His three over post-lunch spell cost 30, including seven boundaries. On a slowish pitch offering the bowlers some assistance, Kabir's bowling is a worry.

He has yet to take a fivewicket haul this season and his propensity to deliver fourballs will have to be eradicated if he is to fulfil his undoubted potential. Ironically Gareth Batty, who missed out with a wrist injury, did his long-term prospects much less damage.

At least there was a full day's play yesterday. Rain allowed only one over on Saturday, meaning the club were obliged to offer full refunds; a scenario that will cost over £10,000. At least the 5,000 spectators present yesterday will have boosted the coffers.

Such mercies are mighty welcome at the club at present, as on the field, results are far less healthy. Since Steve Rhodes succeeded Tom Moody as head coach, the side have lost nine out of 13 completed matches.

That run of form has compromised the side's chances of fulfilling their dream of top division status in both league competitions, fuelling speculation in some quarters that a new director of cricket could be appointed in the autumn. Dave Houghton, currently at Derbyshire, would seem to be the favourite.

It was interesting to note that Australia's 12th man duties were shared by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Despite claiming almost 1,100 Test wickets between them, they were happy to deliver drinks and clothing for their team-mates and satisfied an endless supply of autograph hunters.

That was some contrast to the reclusive Shoaib Akhtar, who increasingly justifies Nick Knight's cynicism towards overseas players.

Worcestershire's negotiations with McGrath are at an early stage, but nobody will be surprised when he is confirmed as one of the club's overseas players for next season. Warwickshire members could be forgiven for looking enviously at their rivals' prospective signing.