Australians 152 for 2 dec (Cowan 77*, Hatchett 2-28) and 366 for 5 dec (Smith 102*, Hughes 84, Cowan 66, Panesar 3-70) drew with Sussex 368 for 7 (Taylor 121*, Hamilton-Brown 73)
Ed Cowan and James Taylor both enjoyed plenty of time in the middle on the final day in Hove, but only one of them has any real chance of playing in the third Test at Old Trafford next week. Taylor's unbeaten 121, scratchy though it was through its early stages, will give him some confidence as he travels to Manchester, where his fate will rest on the fitness of Kevin Pietersen. Cowan's 77 not out, compiled with the help of some buffet bowling late in the afternoon, will boost his tour tally but won't earn him a Test recall.
As Australia's three-day game against Sussex petered out to its inevitable draw, Cowan and Matthew Wade (30 not out) put on an unbeaten 61-run partnership before the players shook hands and play was called off at 5.20pm, the earliest possible stumps time. Cowan might have wanted to push on in pursuit of his first century in a first-class match since November but this game wasn't about personal milestones so much as preparing players for Test battle.
In that regard, it was Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes who most wanted a decent hit during Australia's second innings, although Hughes had already made 84 on the first day. Alas, Khawaja edged to slip for 1 having been promoted to open and Hughes struck 38 during an innings that included a blow to the back of the helmet from Chris Jordan before it ended with a shuffle across the stumps to be lbw to Lewis Hatchett.
Cowan brought up his second half-century of the match from his 73rd delivery with a cut for four off Monty Panesar and both he and Wade cleared the short boundary late in the afternoon as Rory Hamilton-Brown served up some full tosses. Cowan struck two sixes, as many has he has during his Test career, but it was the first-innings centurion Steven Smith who gained the most with the bat from this match for the Australians.
Earlier, Sussex ended their innings at 368 for 7 after completing 100 overs, the maximum allowed for each team's first innings under the agreed conditions of this game. Taylor had gone to lunch on 112 and added nine to his total after the break, as Australia's ring-in player and first-class debutant Ashton Turner leaked a few boundaries during his maiden spell at this level.
Taylor might not yet play in the Old Trafford Test but his innings was a timely way to celebrate his England call-up. Taylor brought up his hundred shortly before lunch with a cover-driven boundary off Nathan Lyon from his 233rd delivery, and it capped off a solid morning for his temporary team, as Sussex added 123 to their overnight total in the first session for the loss of two wickets.
After the second day's play, Jackson Bird described Taylor's innings in underwhelming terms, declaring that although he had batted "quite well" he was "a bit scratchy at times" and had edged a number of deliveries through or wide of the cordon. That was a fair assessment at the time but Taylor looked more comfortable on the third day, especially when driving against the spin of Lyon and Ashton Agar.
He also cut Lyon for an attractive boundary but was fortunate to reach his hundred after he lofted Lyon high over his head and was put down by Agar, who was running back with the flight of the ball from mid-on. It was one of two chances put down by the Australians on the third day - Smith's difficult time in the slips continued when he missed an edge from Callum Jackson off the bowling of Agar.
Jackson provided support for Taylor during a 55-run partnership but after he lofted Lyon over long-on for six, he fell next delivery when he played back and was lbw for 26. Lyon finished with 1 for 99 from 26 overs and while his bowling was not poor - he got some dip and turn at times - nor was it often threatening enough to worry the batsmen. He was far from alone on the third day, though, as none of Australia's attack looked consistently dangerous.
Mitchell Starc picked up the other wicket of the morning when he came around the wicket to Jordan (47) and knocked his leg stump out of the ground with a fullish delivery. However, Starc and James Faulkner both had trouble finding consistent lines, as they had on the second day. Bird beat the bat a few times and drew an edge from Jordan that narrowly evaded Khawaja at gully, but was unable to add to the two wickets he claimed on Saturday.