Cricket: Middlesex slump to defeat against Sussex

Steven Finn of Middlesex (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo)

Steven Finn of Middlesex (pic Nick Wood/TGS Photo) - Credit: Nick Wood/TGS Photo

Sussex survived a determined recovery by Middlesex to beat them by seven wickets inside three days at Hove.

It was their first victory in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two since they beat the same opposition at Lord's at the start of June.

Middlesex had conceded a first innings advantage of 234 but some rearguard batting in their second innings, and particularly a last wicket stand of 79 in 16 overs between Steve Finn and Tim Murtagh, saw them reach a total of 378, setting a brittle Sussex batting line-up 145 to win.

That target looked even trickier when Phil Salt, driving loosely, was bowled between bat and pad by Tim Murtagh for 10, Tom Haines received a bail-trimmer from Steve Finn which angled into him before straightening and the out of form Harry Finch was out for a pair - his second in as many matches - when he edged a sharp ball from Murtagh into the slips.

That left Sussex struggling at 44-3 but an unbroken century partnership between Alex Carey (69) and Luke Wells (48) saw the hosts home.

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The contest ended when spinner Nathan Sowter came on at 88-3 and Carey hit his first three deliveries for legside sixes, followed by another later in the over.

But the Sussex hero was still Ollie Robinson, who followed his 8-34 first innings return with another six wickets to give him a match haul of 14-135, the best by a Sussex bowler since Ian Thomson took 15 at Worthing in 1964.

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Middlesex had started the day on 149-4, still 85 runs behind. Sam Robson had added just seven runs to his score when he played forward to Robinson and edged the ball to Finch at second slip.

But it would be the only Middlesex wicket to fall in the morning session.

The clean-striking Simpson went on to complete his fifty off 71 deliveries, with eight fours, and at 247-5, with a lead of 13 runs and with four overs remaining before lunch, Sussex took the new ball.

Their rewards, though, would come after the interval as Simpson had added just two runs to his lunch score when he shouldered arms to Robinson and had his off-stump knocked back for 89.

Then Middlesex lost two more in two overs as Toby Roland-Jones was smartly stumped by Ben Brown off the bowling of Haines when he lifted his back foot. And it was 278-8 when Nathan Sowter was caught behind off Robinson's bowling.

Middlesex lost their ninth wicket at 299 when James Harris fell to the same Brown-Robinson combination for 66. And it all might have been a bit more straightforward for Sussex if Harris had not been dropped on six, a dolly to Haines in the gully.

That miss felt even more painful for Sussex as the last wicket pair of Finn and Murtagh defied the bowlers. Finn's innings of 56 from 65 balls, with six fours and two sixes, equalled his career best, the other being a five-hour vigil for England against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2012-13.

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