Steve Smith misses out on first ton since January
Steve Smith has found himself upstaged by an English teenager as he missed out on the chance to warm up for Australia duty by making his opening ton in first-class cricket this year.
The Australian great still looked in pretty decent nick on his county home debut for Sussex at Hove as he moved fairly serenely from his overnight 68 on to 89 on Friday morning, looking to amass a big first-innings lead over Glamorgan.
But just as he appeared to be stepping up a gear after only scoring five in the first 55 minutes of play, pulling James Harris for six over mid-wicket - much to the delight of a thousand schoolkids who'd been let in free to the seaside venue for the day - the fun stopped abruptly.
Three balls after the indignity, Harris trapped the champion batter with one that seamed away and kept a little low, ending his near four-hour, 183-ball stay in which Smith had hit 10 fours and a six off 183 balls.
The groans of disappointment told of a crowd who had wanted to see much more from Smith, who hasn't compiled a hundred anywhere since the two dazzling back-to-back tons he cracked in five days in the BBL in January.
But the cheers soon returned, this time for Smith's 19-year-old partner James Coles, one of the bright young things of the English game who had looked in no way overawed in his 143-run stand with the Australian.
The teenager went on to make his maiden first-class ton, a superb 138, as Sussex built up a 358 first-innings lead, despite the best efforts of another Australian Test contender, Michael Neser, whose 3-81 off 21.5 overs included him giving Smith food for thought with his probing attack early in the day.
When Glamorgan batted again, Marnus Labuschagne, who'd been whittled out for just one by England paceman Ollie Robinson first time around, this time got his head down and looked set for a vigil, ending up unbeaten on 15 off 40 balls with the Welsh side on 1-118, still 240 behind.
At Bristol, Marcus Harris had also looked hungry for a big score in what was his final game for Gloucestershire before Australia duty.
Having had a bit of a lean patch since he took a century and half-century off Glamorgan at Cardiff, the opener reached his fifty against Durham off 118 balls, thanks to a carefree reverse sweep for four off Ajaz Patel.
Two balls later, though, the left-hander was gone, rocking back to cut and edging to the keeper.
Australian performance of the day came from Surrey allrounder Sean Abbott, who followed up his rumbustious, late-order 78 with a quick wicket before the close as the home side took control against Kent at the Oval.
Abbott and Gus Atkinson (55no) had helped dig champions Surrey out of a hole to take them to 362, a first-innings lead of 84, before fine bowling reduced them to 4-80 by the close.
Abbott struck to get rid of his countryman, nightwatchman Wes Agar, as three wickets tumbled in the final 16 balls of the day.
Abbott's powerful 88-ball 78 and Atkinson's blistering half-century from No.10, with three sixes and six fours, propelled them into the lead.
The 31-year-old fast bowling allrounder Abbott showed why he's potentially so useful for Australia's extended Test squad, coming in with the score at 6-180 to smash a six and nine fours with some clean, game-changing strikes.