x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Nielsen happy to see Australian batsmen back in the middle

The Australia coach Tim Nielsen said he was satisfied with his side's workout after seeing the tourists held to a draw by Sussex.

HOVE, ENGLAND // The Australia coach Tim Nielsen said he was satisfied with his side's workout after seeing the tourists held to a draw by Sussex. The only centurion of the match, Carl Hopkinson, top-scored for Sussex with 115 as they managed 373 for seven after being set a daunting target of 418 when Australia declared their second innings on 379 for seven. Australia had declared at 349 for seven in their first innings, and then bowled out Sussex for 311.

"We haven't played a four or five-day game since March and this game was all about getting back into the swing of things," Nielsen said. "We got two lots of 80 overs under our belt and apart from Marcus North our batsmen spent some decent time in the middle. It has been a positive week for us. "We can certainly improve but I'd rather be looking to do that with another tour game to go rather than heading into the first Test."

The Australians now head up to Worcester to face the England Lions starting on Wednesday. Hopkinson stole the show on Saturday as the 27-year-old made the most of his chance, having come into the Sussex team on the back of a pair of second-team centuries, before he finally fell to Ben Hilfenhaus. Hilfenhaus then snared Robin Martin-Jenkins with a yorker as the hosts gave their victory bid everything on the back of an impressive start by openers Mike Yardy and Chris Nash, who made 87 in 24 overs.

Yardy raced to his fifty off just 55 balls, hitting 10 fours, but home momentum faded when Nash sliced a drive to backward point off Peter Siddle. Come lunch and Australian skipper Ricky Ponting brought in off-spinners Nathan Hauritz and North, who made the second breakthrough when he had Yardy push forward to allow Michael Clarke to take the catch at slip. Ed Joyce, the last England player to score a hundred against the Australians in a one-day international in Sydney in 2007, made a swift 34 but pushed forward as North claimed a second wicket in the 50th over.

Brett Lee then removed Rory Hamilton-Brown for the second time in the match for just a single, leg before wicket. Sussex began the final session needing 181 as Hopkinson and Luke Wright made a stand of 81 in 13 overs, a new fifth-wicket Sussex record for this fixture. Hauritz saw Hopkinson reprieved on 69 when Ponting dropped him but then took the wicket of Wright. * AFP