Hove – Marcus Stoinis’ hundred laid the platform for victory as Australia beat Sussex by 57 runs at Hove on Thursday in their first match since the ‘ball-tampering’ tour of South Africa.
Stoinis’s 110 was the cornerstone of Australia’s 277 for nine after they lost the toss.
At one stage, with opener Aaron Finch making 78, Australia were on course for a total well above 300 in this warm-up game for a five-match one-day international series against 2019 World Cup hosts England.
Finch’s exit, however, sparked a collapse that saw world champions Australia lose four wickets for 13 runs in 31 balls.
But a target of 278 under the floodlights proved beyond Sussex, coached by former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie.
The south coast county finished on 220 all out, with 45 balls remaining when last man Abi Sakande was bowled by Jhye Richardson.
Australia left-arm spinner Ashton Agar took three wickets for 64 runs in his maximum 10 overs.
Australia are looking to restore their reputation after one of the most humiliating episodes in their cricket history.
Former Australia captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner received year-long bans for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal during the third Test of a four-match series in Cape Town in March.
Meanwhile, Cameron Bancroft, who applied sandpaper to the ball, was banned for nine months.
Concerns a capacity 6,000 crowd at Hove would give Australia a hard time proved largely unfounded until late in the game, when a chant of “if you like sandpaper clap your hands” went around the ground.
And when one spectator asked Australia 12th man Nathan Lyon if he had any sandpaper in his pocket, the spinner replied: “Nah mate, just the Ashes”.
In addition to the banned trio, Australia arrived in England without injured frontline fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, as well as sidelined all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
Finch and the uncapped D’Arcy Short put on 74 for the first wicket against wayward pace bowling from Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan.
But left-arm spinner Danny Briggs struck with his third ball to have Short lbw for 21.
The England international and his fellow Sussex spinner Luke Wells put a brake on Australia’s scoring with two wickets apiece.
Finch completed a 54-ball fifty including eight fours, while Stoinis twice drove Briggs for six.
But Finch was dismissed when he mistimed a pull off Archer and feathered a catch through to wicket-keeper Ben Brown, the Sussex captain.
His exit ended a second-wicket stand of 93 with Stoinis.
Wickets then fell quickly.
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell (one) chipped Wells to mid-off before Travis Head (two) was lbw to Briggs.
Australia captain Tim Paine was caught and bowled by Wells for two.
Stoinis’s late-cut four off Wells saw him to a century off 103 balls, including eight fours and four sixes, before he holed out off Archer.
Sussex’s reply got off to a woeful start when Wells was run out for one after a dreadful mix-up with Phil Salt.
And either side of Wells’s exit, Salt was, remarkably, twice dropped on nought by Short at square leg as the fielder put down routine chances following clips off the batsman’s pads.
Salt cashed in with a 33-ball fifty completed when he hit his fourth and fifth sixes off successive Agar deliveries.
But Salt was bowled for 62, playing over the top of a Kane Richardson full toss.
Harry Finch added a lively 45 before he popped up an easy return catch to Agar and the spinner struck again when he had Laurie Evans stumped by Paine for 57 to all but end Sussex’s hopes of victory.
Australia play Middlesex at Lord’s on Saturday before facing England at The Oval on Wednesday.