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Hussey century for Australia

MIKE Hussey scored his first century in nine months on Wednesday and helped Australia recover to 337-8 against England Lions on the first day of the tourists' final warm-up match before next week's Ashes series.

Hussey was unbeaten at stumps on 143, while number eight batsman and fellow left-hander Mitchell Johnson was out in the final hour for 47 after combining in a vital seventh-wicket partnership of 109 after Australia's batting was rocked.

Australia crashed from 165 for two to 197 for six as they lost four wickets for 32 runs. Hussey, who has faced 221 balls and hit 18 fours, rescued his side with his first century in any form of cricket since making a test hundred in October.

"That was very rewarding," Hussey said. "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, Hussey said: "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."

Prior to the collapse, Hussey steered Australia out of trouble when they slumped to 24 for two, adding 141 for the third wicket with opener Simon Katich, who made 95.

Hussey's steady innings was largely trouble-free though he was dropped by Sajid Mahmood off his own bowling when on 75.

Pace bowlers Steve Harmison (3-67) and Tim Bresnan (3-46), seeking to impress the national selectors, shared six wickets as Australia got off to a difficult start on a slow pitch.

Opener Phillip Hughes, who had been struck on the bicep from a rising Harmison delivery, was dismissed for seven when he gloved another Harmison short ball to gully.

Captain Ricky Ponting edged Graham Onions to first slip for one, trying to force the ball through the covers off the back foot.

Katich and Hussey dominated before and after lunch. But Katich's failure to execute a short ball from Harmison outside his leg stump led to his dismissal, managing only to flick the ball to Onions at fine leg. Vice-captain Michael Clarke was next to go, driving a wide Bresnan out-swinger to backward point.

Harmison said this Australian side wasn't as strong compared to some of the others he has faced.

"They are not as confident or brash as they normally are," Harmison said. "I've seen a chink and it's definitely something for England to work on."


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