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Ashes: James Taylor stands firm on guest appearance for Sussex against Australia

James Taylor: Nottinghamshire batsman reached 64 not out before rain stopped play at Hove

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James Taylor enhanced his hopes of an Ashes call-up with an unbeaten innings of 64 on a rain-hit second day of the tour match between Sussex and Australia at Hove.

Taylor could be included in England's squad for the third Ashes Test at Old Trafford when it is named on Sunday as cover for Kevin Pietersen, who has a calf problem.

The England selectors arranged for the in-form Nottinghamshire batsman to guest for Sussex in their three-day affair against the tourists, seen as better Test preparation than playing for his parent county in the Friends Life t20.

Taylor made his way to the middle on the second morning with Sussex wobbling at 33-3 and offered a supporting hand as Rory Hamilton-Brown launched a counter-attack at the other end.

Hamilton-Brown slammed 11 fours and two sixes in his 51-ball 73, including some severe pre-lunch punishment for Australia's out of favour spinner Nathan Lyon, who was looking to press his claims for a Test recall in Manchester next week.

The fourth-wicket partnership was worth 106 in 18.5 overs when teenage spinner Ashton Agar - preferred to Lyon by Australia in defeats at Trent Bridge and Lord's - had Hamilton-Brown caught by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

Taylor passed his half-century in an evening session curtailed by rain, and he will resume alongside Chris Jordan (23no) on Sunday with Sussex trailing by 138 runs.

Ton up

Steve Smith earlier completed his century before Australia's stand-in skipper Ed Cowan declared with the tourists on 366-5.

Smith, on 98 overnight, hit Sussex spinner Monty Panesar for four in the third over of the morning to bring up his seventh first-class hundred.

With Smith's milestone safely negotiated, the batsmen were immediately called in, leaving Smith unbeaten on 102 and Ashton Agar eight not out.

And the tourists quickly made inroads into Sussex's top order. Seam bowler Jackson Bird, yet to feature in the Ashes series, removed Chris Nash (27) and Luke Wells (4), while new-ball partner Mitchell Starc accounted for Michael Yardy (0) before Hamilton-Brown instigated a recovery.