Batting Practice For Aussies

  • Last Updated: July 2 2009, 12:53 BST

Half-centuries from Ricky Ponting, Phillip Hughes and Michael Clarke coupled with 40s by Simon Katich and Michael Hussey ensured Australia's pre-Ashes batting mission was accomplished in Hove.

Hughes - scored a half-century

The tourists amassed a turgid 379 for seven declared against Sussex and, with only three sessions of the four-day friendly remaining, this 33rd meeting between Sussex and the Australians looks set to go down as the 17th draw and little more than a 12-a-side session of batting practice.

Despite short boundaries and a parched, rapid outfield the tourists were prepared to idle along at 3.8 an over for much of the day against a county attack shorn of its three principle seamers - Yasir Arafat, Dwayne Smith and Jason Lewry, who were all rested for this game.

Resuming on their overnight score of 18 without loss, Katich and Hughes - Australia's probable opening partnership for the Ashes - set out their stall to bat all morning and would have done so but for one rash shot by Katich.

They posted 93 for the first wicket before all-rounder Robin Martin- Jenkins hit the pitch hard just short of a length forcing Katich, on 40 from 64 balls, into a late pull that skied to mid-on.

Hughes and his skipper Ponting added 63 runs in 16 overs either side of lunch, Hughes reaching a sedate 85-ball 50 with eight fours.

The 20-year-old was dropped on 73 when Michael Yardy downed a sharp slip chance from an edged cut against off-spinner Ollie Rayner, but five runs later Hughes flayed across the line to lose his middle stump to Pepler Sandri.

Ponting also enjoyed a life on 36 on his way to a 59-ball half- century when Rayner downed a tough, one-handed chance at second slip off the bowling of Sandri.

Ponting's 76-ball stay for 71, including 10 fours and a six, ended when he aimed over long-on against James Kirtley only to find a leading edge high to Luke Wright at mid-off.

The tourists added 11 runs in nine painstaking overs thereafter as Marcus North took 26 minutes to get off the mark.

He finally scored his first boundary after 45 balls but his dreary, 50-ball innings ended on the stroke of tea for 11 when a missed sweep saw him go leg before to Rayner.

After the interval left-handed Hussey missed out on his 50 when, after batting over two hours for 40, he allowed leg-spinner Will Beer to turn one through the gate and peg back leg stump.

Keeper Brad Haddin tried to up the tempo with a lusty six off Rayner but, with his score on seven, Haddin's miscued sweep picked out Rory Hamilton-Brown diving forward at mid-wicket.

There was enough time left for Clarke to post the third 50 of the innings from 89 balls, as the New South Wales right-hander teamed up with Brett Lee to add a hundred in 19 overs in the brightest partnership of the day.

Lee (33) was bowled by Beer with 11 balls remaining, sparking Ponting's declaration, so Sussex will go into the final day needing 418 for victory.