Hussey starts to pay off debt

Nottinghamshire 369-9 v Lancashire
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The Independent Online

The notion that sportsmen pursue money with no concession to conscience does not always hold good. David Hussey, the Australian batsman, did not fulfil his 2008 Nottinghamshire contract and played, instead, for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League. Surprised to be invited back this season, he admits he has a debt to repay.

"I realise I left Nottinghamshire in the lurch," he said, as he was welcomed back to Trent Bridge as a short-term stand-in for compatriot Adam Voges. "This is a great opportunity to repay them."

An opportunity, also, to ensure that the Australian selectors know he is close at hand, should needs must in the Ashes series. Hussey has yet to win a Test cap yet clearly thrives in England. Yesterday he marked his return to the county he had served with distinction between 2004 and 2007 by scoring his 20th first-class century in their colours as they took control.

Lancashire, dismayed to see Ryan Sidebottom lining up against them while three of their seam bowlers, James Anderson, Andrew Flintoff and Sajid Mahmood, were required for England's Ashes warm-up games, will have been less than thrilled when Sidebottom swelled the total late in the day with his highest first-class score for eight years.

Jim Cumbes, the Lancashire chief executive, admitted that explaining Sidebottom's presence to supporters was "difficult". "We support the central contracts system but some supporters think the competition loses integrity when this happens," he said. "It is difficult to explain when it appears to be inconsistent, but is something we just have to live with."

Hussey's innings was not chanceless – he was dropped on 45 – but there were not many flaws. Coming in at 98 for 3, he got off the mark by pulling Steven Croft to the boundary and never looked anything but self-assured. In a stand of 170 with Ali Brown for the fifth wicket, he reached three figures by driving Gary Keedy for six, having struck 18 fours. He had added three more – and another six – before miscuing Karl Brown to be caught at mid-off.

Karl Brown, in his first appearance of the season, was Lancashire's unexpected hero, the medium-pacer's third delivery accounting for Ali Brown, although not before the latter had passed fifty for the fifth time in six Championship innings.