James Taylor enhanced his prospects of an Ashes call-up as he made a gritty unbeaten 64 on the second day of Sussex’s tour game against Australia.
Taylor put on 106 for the fourth wicket with Rory Hamilton-Brown to help Sussex recover from 33-3 to close on 228-5 in reply to Australia’s 366-5 declared.
The Nottinghamshire batsman – who is guesting in this game on the request of the ECB - was upstaged during his stand with Hamilton-Brown who entertained a sell-out crowd by blasting 73 off 51 balls.
In contrast Taylor took 114 balls to reach his half century – 80 more than Hamilton-Brown needed – and had faced 146 deliveries when rain brought a premature end to proceedings at 5.40pm.
He needed a stroke of luck too as he was almost bowled when he had yet to score by Mitchell Starc and then was dropped by Steve Smith off the bowling of Jackson Bird on 23.
Despite his lack of fluency Taylor has probably done enough to ensure his place in the England squad for Old Trafford next week and a place in the side if Kevin Pietersen is not fit.
While Taylor toiled for his runs the innings of Hamilton-Brown was in complete contrast. He smashed Nathan Lyons for four fours in an over while also lifting the spinner for two big sixes.
Hamilton-Brown also took on Ashton Agar and it was hugely disappointing for the crowd when he eventually feathered a catch to the keeper off the rookie spinner.
Taylor went on to add 46 with Matt Machan for the fifth wicket and an unbroken 43 with Chris Jordan for the sixth to leave Sussex trailing by 138.
Machan’s sketchy innings came to an end when he attempted to pull a bouncer from James Faulkner and was caught at midwicket.
Earlier, Australia declared immediately after Smith – who was 98 overnight - had cut Monty Panesar for four to bring up his century.
Bird then removed Luke Wells and Chris Nash cheaply while Mitchell Starc dismissed Mike Yardy for a duck to leave Sussex wobbling on 33-3.