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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Friday, 19 November 2010

Ashes: Mike Hussey primed for Gabba Test after century

Michael Hussey
Hussey is hugged by Test team-mate Marcus North on reaching his ton

Under-pressure Australia batsman Mike Hussey hopes his century for Western Australia has cemented his place in the team for the opening Ashes Test.

Hussey, who averaged 91.60 in the 2006-07 Ashes and a mainstay of the side for several years, has found his place threatened by a poor run of form.

But on Friday he hit 118 off 160 balls for Western Australia against Victoria.

He said: "I'd be disappointed if I was left out of the squad now. It was just meant to be my day today."

Left-hander Hussey, 35, has not been at his best in recent Tests and was out for an 18-ball duck on day one at Melbourne.

But, on the same day his main rivals for a middle-order berth in the 17-man squad, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson, failed to fire for the second time against the England attack in Hobart, Hussey came good at the MCG.

The innings was watched by Australian selector Greg Chappell, and afterwards Hussey said: "It has been hard to shy away from it [Ashes pressure] but I've been trying to not listen to too much of that at all.


"I haven't read a hell of a lot or listened to much criticism. I know I play my best when I'm clear in my mind so that's what I've been trying to do."

His innings was made a little easier with the MCG wicket geared towards batting, and an already weakened Victoria attack further destabilised by the loss of Andrew McDonald, who had dismissed Hussey in the first innings.

But, after coming in to bat at three after Michael Swart had been removed in the first over, he still batted fluidly and confidently, getting a big hug from Test team-mate Marcus North (23 not out) when reaching three figures.

Earlier in the same game, Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson added to his unbeaten 121 with the bat in the Warriors' first innings as he tore through Victoria's batting line-up with figures of 5-35.

Johnson stated: "It felt good towards the end. I felt I was getting a good bit of rhythm, good bit of pace.

"The boys were supporting me and were getting pretty excited when they saw a few fly through. I'm feeling very confident. Getting a few runs helps as well.

"If I can keep doing that... look out the Poms."

Nathan Hauritz
Hauritz is hoping for some loyalty from the selectors

Australia could trim their squad down to 12 or 13 over the weekend, with Khawaja and Ferguson expected to make way along with at least one of the three spinners and a seam bowler.

There has been increasing speculation that slow left-armer Xavier Doherty, who took two wickets in a New South Wales v Tasmania match dominated by seamers, could be preferred to off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

The latter made zero and six with the bat in the same match. and was only given one over by NSW captain Simon Katich.

Worse still, he dropped Ricky Ponting and then spilled another catch which would have won the game. Instead Tasmania squeaked home by a wicket.

The first Test, meanwhile, will take place at Brisbane's Gabba on Thursday, where wet conditions in the build-up have ensured low scores and plenty of results in early season domestic games.

England's Test bowlers have been practising at the nearby Allan Border field having been rested for the match against Australia A in Tasmania - and they will get their first look at the Gabba on Sunday.

The forecast remains showery for the days leading up to the series opener.

Listen to the Ashes live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK users only) - series starts 25 November 2010. Archive: Relive past Ashes series

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see also
Bell & Bresnan shine for England
19 Nov 10 |  England
Can England win down under?
19 Nov 10 |  England
Watch BBC Sport's Ashes trail
19 Nov 10 |  Test Match Special
Friday's Ashes gossip column
19 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Katich in shoulder injury scare
17 Nov 10 |  Australia
England bowlers to miss warm-up
15 Nov 10 |  England
Australia selectors drop Hauritz
20 Nov 10 |  Australia
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket

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