Steve Smith in 'ominous' act as England rival fires Ashes warning

The Ashes rivals shone in an intriguing precursor to the upcoming series.

Pictured left to right, Sussex county cricket teammates Steve Smith and Ollie Robinson.
Sussex county cricket teammates Steve Smith and Ollie Robinson lay down impressive markers ahead of the Ashes series. Pic: Getty

Steve Smith and his England rival Ollie Robinson have both fired Ashes warning shots on a day to forget for the Aussie batter's Test teammate, Marnus Labuschagne. Smith marked his home debut for English county cricket side Sussex with an unbeaten 68, but it was a stunning spell of bowling from Robinson that will have the Aussies sitting up and taking notice, ahead of the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston on June 16.

England quick Robinson - a teammate of Smith's at Sussex - took 4-29 off four overs in a blistering spell of bowling against Glamorgan that included the prized scalp of Labuschagne for one run. The Aussie was trapped lbw off the very first ball he faced from the England paceman.

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Robinson, who bowled teammate Smith during a practice session at Hove which had left the Australian muttering it "wasn't ideal", picked another good time to make a point. Having removed Labuschagne, he also had fellow Aussie Ashes hopeful Michael Neser out lbw. Labuschagne, who'd scored 341 in his last four knocks and was beginning to tick along quite ominously in county warm-ups, couldn't cope with Robinson's first delivery, which nipped back, kept a bit low and had him rapped straight in front.

It was part of an another impressive spell during which Robinson's 4-29 off four overs was largely responsible for Skitting Glamorgan for just 123 after they had been sent in to bat. In response, Smith knuckled down to score his first half-century for Sussex after Cheteshwar Pujara had been dismissed at 3-83.

With Ashes omens thick on the ground at the Sussex seaside, Glamorgan allrounder Neser staked his claim to join the Australia party in England with two sharp wickets, including the dismissal of Sussex's Indian rock Cheteshwar Pujara for a duck. Neser, who took a hat-trick and a career-best seven-wicket haul against Yorkshire before then shining with the bat against Worcestershire, this time snared Pujara, set to be a key figure for his country in the World Test Championship final, leg before. Neser finished the day with an impressive 2-51.

Seen here, Aussie cricket star Michael Neser bowling for Glamorgan.
Michael Neser did his Ashes chances no harm with an impressive spell of bowling for English county cricket side, Glamorgan. Pic: Getty

The Aussie quick was unable to displace his compatriot Smith, however, with the 33-year-old's impressive half century providing him with some valuable time at the crease ahead of the Ashes. Smith's first foray into English county cricket has been controversial, with many England supporters insisting Aussie players should not be afforded the chance to acclimatise to the conditions before the Ashes gets underway.

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Smith enjoyed more than three hours at the crease in a judicious knock that featured nine boundaries off the 126 balls he faced, while he also enjoyed an unbroken 90 partnership with impressive English teenage hope James Coles, who'll be glad to have got to his 50 before the close of play. Smith will now be eyeing a 47th first-class century when he resumes with his side at 4-221.

While fans have been divided over the participation of Smith and his Aussie Test teammates in county cricket, the veteran batter's first home appearance drew in a big crowd at Sussex's home ground. The 33-year-old had only previously compiled 33 in his first two county knocks, but will no doubt be buoyed by his latest dig.

Smith has been in somewhat of a lean spell by his lofty standards, having not managed a half-century in the recent tour of India, in both the four Tests and three ODI matches. With more than 2000 fans turning out to watch, there was even an enjoyable little cameo between the two Aussie batting stars in the last few overs of the day as Labuschagne indulged in a bit of banter with his good mate.

Bowling his leg-spin, Labuschagne was desperate to claim the scalp of Smith in the final over of the day. The former Aussie captain had the last laugh though as he belted Labuschagne to the boundary off the penultimate ball.

with AAP

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