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Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Wednesday, 1 July 2009 18:32 UK

Hussey ton helps Aussies recover

England Lions v Australia
Venue: New Road Date: 1-4 July Start: 1100 BST
Coverage: Live scorecard and match report on the BBC Sport website
Match scorecard

By Oliver Brett

Michael Hussey
Hussey has been in poor form in the Test arena, but shone at Worcester

Michael Hussey's 50th first-class century papered over the cracks in a misfiring Australian batting line-up on day one of the match against the Lions.

England's second string held the upper hand at tea with the Aussies 215-6 in their final warm-up before the first Ashes Test starting on 8 July.

But Hussey hit an unbeaten 143 with 18 boundaries as they closed on 337-8.

Five of the probable Test side's top seven were dismissed for single figure scores on a flat wicket at Worcester.

However opener Simon Katich made a solid 95 before eventually falling to Steve Harmison, who took 3-67 in the day from a workload of 22 overs,

The Durham paceman delivered a fiery opening burst: his first ball clattered into young opener Phillip Hughes's helmet and he also struck Ricky Ponting on the shoulder.

The left-handed Hughes, who has shone in a brief Test career and in an early-season stint with Middlesex, could not cope with Harmison's aggression on a muggy morning - and it was no surprise when a catch finally looped to gully off the handle of his bat.

[The Australians] are not as confident or brash as they normally are. I've seen a chink and it's definitely something for England to work on

Steve Harmison

Ponting played a mystifying shot to his eighth delivery faced, an airy drive with minimal foot-movement to a ball that was too short for the shot. The edge, off Graham Onions, was smoothly taken by Vikram Solanki in the slips.

That made it 24-2 in the 11th over, but Hussey and Katich built a strong recovery either side of lunch, adding 141 in less than 30 overs before the Lions were able to taste their next success.

Katich had survived on 37 when mistiming his pull at Sajid Mahmood, Onions at leg-slip failing to snaffle a tough chance.

In the heat of the afternoon, the two left-handers threatened to take the game right away from the Lions with a series of well-timed pulls and drives but then came a flurry of wickets.

First Katich's attempted hook off Harmison found Onions at fine-leg, before Bresnan enticed Michael Clarke to drive to point. Marcus North's woeful tour continued when he played Onions onto his stumps from an angled blade and then Bresnan had an lbw appeal upheld after jagging a ball into Brad Haddin's pads.

So things were looking up for the Lions at tea, even though Hussey was still there on 82.

He had added another 13 to his score when offering Mahmood a chance off his own bowling - but the Lancashire man dropped it and the miss proved costly. Hussey duly reached his century soon afterwards, with a back-foot cover-drive for four off the disappointing Adil Rashid which brought him his 15th boundary.

Former Aussie wicketkeeper Rod Marsh chats to Fletch

Australia's number eight Mitchell Johnson offered fine support in a restorative stand of 109. But he eventually fell for 47, gloving Bresnan behind, before Harmison cleaned up Brett Lee with the second new ball.

Hussey was dropped once more before the close, this time by Rashid at third slip off Harmison. After two decent scores at Hove, this big century will help him forget that he has a poor recent international record.

It was his first ton in any form of cricket for nine months since his 146 against India in a Test match in Bangalore last October.

"It was very rewarding," said the 34-year-old who averaged 91.6 in the 2006-07 Ashes. "It's been a long time for me since I spent that amount of time at the wicket, so it was pretty important for me to get my confidence up and get some big runs.

Asked if his form had been bothering him, he added: "I would be lying if I said it didn't. You almost get out of the habit of batting a long time and scoring hundreds. It was starting to get to the stage where I had almost forgotten how to do it. So it was nice to get a hundred, which does take a lot of application."

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see also
Harmison detects Aussie weakness
02 Jul 09 |  England
Ashes warm-up photos
04 Jul 09 |  England
Clarke hardened by 2005 struggle
01 Jul 09 |  Australia
Siddle benefits from coach Cooley
29 Jun 09 |  Australia
Hopkinson ton frustrates Aussies
27 Jun 09 |  Australia
Aussie coach dismisses spin issue
26 Jun 09 |  England
Gilchrist sees Ashes as open duel
25 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Injured Watson stays with Aussies
24 Jun 09 |  Australia
England omit Vaughan and Harmison
22 Jun 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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