Batsmen get it right – and wrong – at Hove

Australia

Australia would have preferred at least one of batsmen Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan or Usman Khawaja to graduate to three figures, but won't be too displeased with Friday's effort against Sussex at Hove.

Australia would have preferred at least one of batsmen Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan or Usman Khawaja to graduate to three figures, but won't be too displeased with Friday's effort against Sussex.

Openers Phil Hughes and Ed Cowan welcomed 84 and 66 respectively, the left-handed Usman Khawaja moved to 40 and all-rounder James Faulkner scored 48, but not one was able to graduate to a century.

The talented Steven Smith, however, recorded 98 not out in a total of 354 for five – and will ponder graduating to three figures come day two of the three-day tour fixture at the County Ground in Hove.

Smith looks to have secured his place in the team for next week's third Ashes Test. The 24-year-old from Sydney was one of several batsmen under pressure after making just three runs in Australia's heavy defeat at Lord's, but his was the standout performance on an encouraging day for the Australians looking to force their way into contention for Old Trafford on Thursday.

Cowan and Phil Hughes figured in an opening stand of 150 in 35 overs but reserve wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was out for a duck as Australia ended the first day on 354 for five after winning the toss.

Smith and Faulkner revived the tourists with a stand of 131 in 28 overs for the fifth wicket after Australia had failed to build on the platform provided by Cowan and Hughes when they lost four wickets for 68 runs in 27 overs.

They were particularly effective when Sussex took the new ball, with 47 runs plundered in five overs including three successive boundaries by Smith off Chris Liddle.

Faulkner became Monty Panesar's third victim in the penultimate over when he was bowled hitting across the line and although Smith hit the first ball of the last over for his 15th boundary, he still needs two runs to complete what would be only the third hundred on the tour so far by an Australian.

Earlier, Cowan and Hughes batted throughout the morning session, although Hughes was badly dropped on 22 by Sussex skipper Chris Nash at second slip off Chris Jordan.

The left-hander chanced his arm on several occasions against the new ball in a somewhat skittish innings, although he did play some pleasing back-foot shots when offered any width by the Sussex seamers.

Cowan looked more assured until he tried to work a ball from Lewis Hatchett off his hips and was well caught by James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire batsman playing for Sussex as a guest at the request of the ECB. Cowan's 66 came off 112 balls with 10 fours.

Hatchett, in only his second first-class game of the season, looked Sussex's most threatening seamer and he struck again in the 42nd over when Hughes was caught behind, drawn into playing at a ball that held its line outside off stump.

Hughes, whose innings included 14 fours, looks to have cemented his place at Old Trafford despite scoring only two runs in his last three Test innings and the same applies to Usman Khawaja, who looked reasonably secure until he pushed hard at Panesar and edged to Jordan at slip.

Wade, playing his first game for a month, had talked optimistically before the game about forcing his way into the Test team as a specialist batsman but he lasted just six balls before being held at backward point in the first over after tea aiming a forcing shot off the back foot at Panesar.

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