Sussex v Australians, Tour match, Hove, 2nd day July 27, 2013

Taylor and Bird make Test auditions


Sussex 228 for 5 (Hamilton-Brown 73, Taylor 64*, Bird 2-33) trail Australians 366 for 5 dec (Smith 102*, Hughes 84, Cowan 66, Panesar 3-70) by 138 runs

If the second day in Hove was a Test audition, Jackson Bird and James Taylor would be expecting call-backs, while the casting directors for the Old Trafford Test would be worried about the range displayed by James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon. Matthew Wade would be resigned to watching from the audience. By stumps on a rain-affected day, Taylor was unbeaten on 64 and Bird had collected two wickets, though he was unlucky not to have more, and Sussex had moved along to 228 for 5.

Taylor could have, and should have, been a third victim for Bird, when his edge was put down by Steven Smith at second slip; it was a low chance, but one that a fieldsman of Smith's capability should have taken. The life allowed Taylor to compile an otherwise calm half-century full of nudges and prods, and featuring few truly memorable strokes, but he knows that his hopes of playing at Old Trafford rest more on Kevin Pietersen's fitness than his own runs.

"He was a bit scratchy at times but he dug in there and he dug in there quite well," Bird said. "He nicked a few balls through the slips and got dropped once but he is still at the crease. He tries to make you come to him and he puts the bad balls away and I thought he batted quite well."

When an early stumps was called at 5.38pm due to bad light and subsequent rain, Taylor was well positioned to push for a century and he had a capable partner with him at the crease, Chris Jordan on 23. Jordan had also been put down at second slip by Smith, a far easier chance at head height off the bowling of Faulkner, who struggled for line in his early spell but found a slightly better rhythm later in the day and picked up the wicket of Matt Machan, who top-edged a catch to midwicket for 16.

Like Faulkner, Starc was initially wayward, especially with the swinging new ball, and while his figures appeared to show his economy, as much as anything that was a reflection of the batsmen being unwilling to chase wide balls. Starc also claimed a wicket to a top-edged hook when Michael Yardy was taken at fine leg for a duck, and like Faulkner he bowled better as they day wore on, although both men were comfortably outperformed by Bird.

Bird's efforts must have moved him towards favouritism to replace in Pattinson at in the third Investec Test at Old Trafford, especially given that he also impressed during the tour match against Worcestershire before the first Test. Bird claimed the first wicket when Luke Wells played the wrong line to a fullish, straight delivery that took out the middle stump, and against the right-handers he was nagging outside off. His accuracy was a notable point of difference with Starc failing to control the ball at the other end.

At times, Bird was moving the ball too much - three successive deliveries whistled past the outside edge of Chris Nash's bat - but eventually he had his reward when Nash edged low to Smith at second slip. Bird ended his first spell with 2 for 16 from seven overs and when he returned after lunch he was again a handful for the batsmen, drawing the edge of Taylor that was put down.

Like Bird, Ashton Agar had opportunities missed off his bowling: an edge from Rory Hamilton-Brown that tickled Wade's thigh and wasn't grasped by Smith at slip, and a missed stumping down leg side when Wade couldn't grab the ball cleanly to catch Machan short. Overall it was a miserable day for Wade, who on a number of occasions failed to glove the ball cleanly, and combined with his duck in the first innings, he has failed to put any pressure on Brad Haddin to hold his place for Manchester.

Wade did, however, take a catch when Hamilton-Brown edged behind for 73 off Agar, who finished with 1 for 48 from eight overs. Agar leaked plenty of runs but so did his rival for a spin place at Old Trafford, Lyon, who was targeted by Hamilton-Brown during a blitz before lunch. Hamilton-Brown reached his half-century from 34 deliveries, which included 23 off seven consecutive balls from Lyon, against whom he advanced and clipped through gaps with ease.

Hamilton-Brown also lofted Lyon for a pair of sixes over long-off and long-on, although Lyon did improve his bowling as the afternoon wore on. Following a 90-minute rain break, Lyon found a little more dip and flight, and asked a few questions of the batsmen, though none that they were unable to answer. The chances of a twin-spin attack at Old Trafford may yet depend on the pitch, but neither Lyon nor Agar would have been truly happy with their efforts in Hove.

Earlier, Smith had been the focus when he resumed on 98, in search of the third first-class century by an Australian on this tour, and he reached it with a late cut for four off Monty Panesar. Immediately the Australians declared with Smith on 102 and Agar on 8, having added 12 runs to their overnight score to finish at 366 for 5. They batted only 2.4 overs on the second morning, but the batsmen may yet have another chance to impress on the third day.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • H on July 28, 2013, 14:38 GMT


    Meanwhile, when we had the chance to pick a 30 year old Pakistani-born spinner to play for England, one with a proven international record, without changing our laws to accelerate his citizenship, we didn't. I'm guessing if Saqlain Mushtaq had instead qualified to play for Australia back in 2007, you would have wanted him picked?

    Khawaja I won't pick on too much (he moved when he was very young and obviously learned his cricket in Australia) but while I commend Australia for giving Ahmed an opportunity to play cricket by granting him citizenship, for the fans who condemned England for selecting players who, by and large, learned their cricket, or developed into international cricketers, in England, to push for Ahmed to play for Australia, is the height of hypocrisy.

    Personally, I have no issue with Australia selecting anyone who qualifies and wants to play for them. I'm of Indian descent, but I was born in England, and have always considered myself 100% English.

  • H on July 28, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    @whofriggincares what "large percentage"? Root, Cook, Bell, Bairstow, Prior (don't care that he was born in South Africa; came here when he was 11, learned how to play here, and represented England at every youth level), Broad, Swann, Bresnan and Anderson all learned their cricket in England.

    Even if we look at the Limited Overs sides, it's a similar story. Dernbach came here when he was 14 and played Rugby in South Africa. He only got into cricket when he came to England. He learned his cricket with Surrey's academy.

    Ben Stokes moved to England when he was 12 because his father got a job here. Funnily enough, like Dernbach, he played Rugby in New Zealand, probably due to the influence of his father (who was a Rugby player, and then a coach). He only started taking his cricket seriously at 14, two years after arriving in England.

    Meaker moved here when he was 12. Going back further, Strauss moved here at 6. Even Pietersen was a bowler who batted a bit back in South Africa.


  • Android on July 28, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    wel what I thing aus don't have a good spinner.they should Cal third test I would like to c aus playing with 2 spinners.I think smith should play as an opener in 3rd test.Watson should bat at 4.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    @Cradbury.Our Bowlers are holding their own in this series and if there had been better selection and better batting performances to support them, England's top order batting Malaise (Cook,Trott,KP, Root prior to Lords and being dropped on 8)could of been extended through to their middle order IMO.I think England will experience the ideal selection in the next Test.From Patto's 's start in test cricket it seemed that he would carry on in England as he performed under pressure on his debut and in the India series in OZ but it hasnt qujite worked out that way though if he can keep his body in order he will be a handful for any batting lineup with a bit more experience.I'm at least 90% certain that the England top order will find the new ball bowling of Harris and Bird very challenging as they both swing the ball and make the batsmen play regularly.Bird has both the first class credentials and the wickets on the bird in the first 2 test's he has played to walk in with complete confidence.

  • Android on July 28, 2013, 12:37 GMT

    seems Australia cannot bowl out a team within 250. England can keep Monty in wings

  • James on July 28, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    @ cbradbury, If an honest, reliable trundler can rip the heart out of your top order every second innings, that doesn't say much about your batting lineup.

  • R on July 28, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    @Greatest_Game ... love the statfest... respect...

  • clive on July 28, 2013, 11:43 GMT

    I do have a question for the Aussie fans. Before the start of the series, almost everyone for Australia, including Bill Lawrie, were stating that you had the best bowling attack in the world. Well, if that is true, why didn't you bring them to England? I would sum up the situation so far as:

    1. Harris - good bowler 2. Siddle - honest, reliable, trundler.

    After that...well, even you lot can't decide who should be playing...

    So, please explain your contention re the 'world's best attack' when for a start Steyn, Morkel, Anderson, and Swann would WALK into your side if they were Australian...

  • j on July 28, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    This Ashes series has clearly proved that England's long rein of Ashes dominance continues with enormous strength. Their quality on sub-continent pitches assured, their win ratio at home well respected, they are a multi skilled side up against an Australian team that England are making look like an U16 3rd XI. For years, Australia issues with spin have been one of their biggest problems. Now, in the complete absence of any Oz spinners, that's rated one of their lesser issues, superseded by a top 6 that England bowl out just for fun, a captain who can't lead, a one-dimensional seam attack, and a recent legacy of awful keepers who fail regularly with the bat. The Ashes of 2010/11 was bad enough viewing for Oz fans, with Cook amassing his famous 766 runs and Anderon and Tremlett running through the 'best' of Australian cricket. This time has a much more ominous feel to it for Aus, and that's without even looking at the scorebook to see that they're two to nothing down in the series.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    @.Greatestgame.I should add as well that credit must be given to the English for playing their brand of cricket which is distinct in itself. The ECB and all English fans should be chuffed at their success. Because of Australia's dominance; they didnt appreciate their success as much as they should of which is really a disservice to the game.Cricket Lover's became blas'e about their success and the appropriate steps werent taken to insure that high standards werent maintained at the developmental levels.Still; I am fascinated now more than ever as this teams grows and develops. It's almost a total mystery to see who out of this lot will forge their way in the game as none of the batsmen besides Clark are the finished article. For me the standout talents are Steve Smith and David Warner and maybe Khawaja.Darren Lehmann's Job is not just guiding this team but also developing each individuals game to test standard which is a huge undertaking and patience needs to by shown by all Oz fans.