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Taylor And Bird Enhance Test Claims

James Taylor enjoyed playing for his new county against the Australians on day two at Hove.
©Sussex CCC

Australians 366-5d (Smith 102no) v
Sussex 228-5 (Hamilton-Brown 73)
Tour Match, Hove, day two

There were several men who, heading into this match, might have viewed it as something of an audition for the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. James Taylor was aiming to secure his place as next in line of England’s batsmen, while Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc were seemingly engaged in a bowl-off to find out who would replace the injured James Pattinson, and Nathan Lyon would have been hoping to pile pressure onto Ashton Agar.

All of them either greatly enhanced or pretty much laid to rest their hopes of starting in Manchester on Thursday. Taylor ensured that he will play if Kevin Pietersen fails to recover from his injury, while Jackson Bird leapt ahead of Starc in the pace-bowling race. Lyon and Agar, though, were both mauled by Rory Hamilton-Brown, who hit 73 off only 51 balls, with Lyon’s inferior batting ability surely seeing him continue to lose out to Agar at Old Trafford.

The day began with Steve Smith rubber-stamping his place as Australia’s number five. He brought up three figures in the third over of the day, at which point the Australians declared on 366 for five.

Bird and Starc were then given the new ball and proceeded to deliver opening spells that were entirely different in nature but remarkably similar in result. Both bowled seven overs, with Starc taking one for 16 and Bird two for 16.

That didn’t tell the whole story, however, as Bird was far more threatening and found more movement, while Starc was relatively inaccurate and lucky to benefit from a top-edged hook shot by Michael Yardy. Bird, meanwhile, earnt both of his wickets. He clean-bowled talented Sussex opener Luke Wells for four and then tormented his opening partner Chris Nash before having him caught behind for 27.

That made it 33 for three, but Hamilton-Brown rather changed the complexion of the day by taking a liking to Lyon and Agar. The pair would repeatedly be hit to the boundary and conceded 113 runs from 26 overs for Agar’s sole success, when he finally had Hamilton-Brown caught behind.

A rain delay followed Hamilton-Brown’s departure, with Taylor unbeaten at the crease and joined by Scotland all-rounder Matt Machan. Both were fortunate to still be there, with the former having been dropped by Smith at second slip on 23 and the latter having benefited from a fumble by Matthew Wade when he had yet to score.

The rain relented to allow time for some more play in the evening before arriving once again at around 5.30 pm to bring an early close. Taylor is unbeaten on 64 off 146 balls and has looked fairly assured throughout his innings, surely having done all that was asked of him by the England selectors. He is partnered by Chris Jordan on 23, with Machan having been caught off James Faulkner for 16.

© Cricket World 2013