Ashes - Taylor hits half-century against Australia to boost hopes

James Taylor scored a patient 64 not out against the Australians at Hove to increase his chances of playing in next week's third Ashes Test at Old Trafford.

PA Sport

Taylor batted for almost three and a half hours on a day cut short by two rain interruptions as he and Rory Hamilton-Brown, who hit a cavalier 73 from 51 balls, guided Sussex to 228 for five in reply to an Australian first innings total of 366 for five declared.

The 23-year-old Nottinghamshire batsman is playing for Sussex at the request of the England selectors, who have effectively put him on standby in case Kevin Pietersen does not shake off a calf injury in time for the third Test, with England's squad to be announced tomorrow morning.

Taylor was almost yorked first ball by Mitchell Starc and did enjoy some further luck, surviving a hard low chance to Steve Smith at second slip off Jackson Bird on 23 and then edging a drive at the same bowler wide of Smith five runs later.

By the close, however, he had battled through 146 balls, hitting five fours, and had been joined in an unbroken seventh wicket stand of 43 by Chris Jordan, who moved confidently to 23 not out.

Sussex initially struggled to 33 for three in the morning session before Taylor and Hamilton-Brown rallied them in a fourth wicket partnership of 106 in 21 overs.

Australia, resuming their first innings on 354 for five, batted on for 2.4 overs to allow Smith to cut the boundary off Monty Panesar which took him from his overnight 98 to 102 not out.

After the tourists' declaration, however, Sussex quickly lost Luke Wells who was bowled for four, driving expansively at Jackson Bird, while Mike Yardy went for a duck as he flapped a short ball from Starc to long leg.

Chris Nash struck four fours in a bright 27, but he had also played and missed several times at the impressive Bird when he pushed forward to another leg cutter from the Aussie paceman and edged to Smith at second slip.

Hamilton-Brown immediately launched a counter-attack and was particularly harsh on off spinner Nathan Lyon as he raced to fifty from 34 balls with two sixes and seven fours.

Taylor, watching from the other end, was content merely to collect five singles as Hamilton-Brown completed his half-century.

At lunch Sussex had recovered to 98 for three, with Hamilton-Brown on 55 and Taylor six, but the latter accelerated after the interval with a series of cuts and sweeps at Ashton Agar's left-arm spin.

Hamilton-Brown fell for 73, thin-edging a cut at Agar to keeper Matthew Wade, and walked off to the applause of a 7,000 sell-out crowd after hitting two sixes and eleven fours.

Rain forced the players off the field at 2.30pm, but play resumed after tea, and a further 27 overs were possible before more rain arrived at 5.40pm to curtail proceedings for the day.

Sussex will resume on Sunday's final day 138 runs adrift of Australia's first innings score.

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