Steve Smith outshines Labuschagne in county clash

·3-min read
Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Steve Smith has drawn first blood in his county championship batting duel against his Aussie pal Marnus Labuschagne - but both will have been concerned by the form of a key English Ashes rival Ollie Robinson.

Smith, whose home debut for Sussex drew in the crowds at Hove on Thursday, didn't let them down as he made an assured unbeaten 68 not out by the close to put the hosts in a commanding position after the opening day against Glamorgan.

But Smith, who's already quickly learned about the skill of his Sussex teammate Robinson in practice at the south coast county, had earlier been forced to watched impressed again as his Test teammate Labuschagne was trapped lbw for just one by the very first ball he faced from the paceman.

With Ashes omens thick on the ground at the Sussex seaside, Glamorgan allrounder Michael Neser also staked another claim to join the Australia party in England following two more sharp wickets, including the dismissal for a duck of Sussex Indian rock Cheteshwar Pujara.

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.

Robinson, who bowled teammate Smith during his practice session at Hove which had left the Australian muttering it "wasn't ideal", had earlier picked another good time to make a point, this time getting both Labuschagne and 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 - including the wicket of Neser for just two - was largely responsible for skittling Glamorgan for just 123 after they had been inserted.

In response, Smith knuckled down to score his first half-century for Sussex after Pujara had been dismissed at 3-83 with Neser looking threatening with his 2-51.

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 thankful for the education at 50no by the close.

A welcome 47th first-class century looks Smith's for the taking on Friday when he resumes with his side 4-221.

He's had a lean spell by his standards, not even managing a half-century in India in both the Tests and ODIs, and having only previously compiled 33 in his first two county knocks.

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, trying to nick the big wicket of his mate, indulged in a bit of banter with Smith.

To no avail, as it turned out, with Smith clocking the legspinner for a boundary off the penultimate ball.