LONDON (AFP) – James Taylor advanced his case for an England recall by making an unbeaten 64 for Sussex against Australia on the second day of three at Hove on Saturday.
Nottinghamshire batsman Taylor has been given special dispensation by England chiefs to 'guest' for Sussex, with officials concerned about the fitness of star batsman Kevin Pietersen for next week's third Test in Manchester.
Ashes-holders England, 2-0 up in the five-match series with their arch-rivals, are due to name their squad for Old Trafford on Sunday and Taylor, who last played Test cricket a year ago, seems set to be included as cover in case Pietersen does not overcome a calf injury.
The 23-year-old Taylor batted for nearly three-and-a-half hours before rain forced an early close at Sussex's Hove headquarters on England's south coast, with the hosts 228 for five in reply to Australia's 366 for five declared.
However, the diminutive Taylor was almost yorked first ball by paceman Mitchell Starc and then saw Steven Smith drop a low, hard, second slip catch off Jackson Bird on 23.
But, after Rory Hamilton-Brown had made a dashing 73, Taylor batted through until the close. He'd so far faced 146 balls, including five fours.
Both Bird and Starc are bidding to replace James Pattinson in the Ashes side after their fellow fasr bowler was ruled out of the remainder of the tour with a stress fracture of the back after Australia's colossal 347-run second Test loss at Lord's.
Bird had the marginally better figures Saturday, taking two wickets for 33 runs in 14 overs compared to Starc's one for 28 in 13.
Earlier Smith, 98 not out overnight, reached three figures before Australia declared, the all-rounder cutting England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar for four to complete a 165-ball century including 16 boundaries.