Middlesex struggle as new season begins

Close, day one: Middlesex 105 lead Sussex 86-3 by 19 runs
Sussex 3pts, Middlesex 0pts

Middlesex’s batting crumbled amid gloomy conditions at Hove as poor weather blighted the County Championship curtain-raiser.

Dawid Malan (35) was the only batsman to make a respectable score, with Eoin Morgan – aiming to win back his England Test place – falling first ball.

Middlesex lost eight wickets for 50 runs, Jon Lewis taking 4-34 on his Sussex debut.

Tim Murtagh responded with two wickets of his own as Sussex were restricted to 42-3 at one point, but they recovered to 86-3 before bad light ended proceedings early.

Heavy overnight rain delayed the start by an hour and it was no surprise when Sussex put Middlesex into bat having won the toss.

Chris Rogers, hoping to build on his Ashes-winning winter, was removed early on by fellow Australian Steve Magoffin for just four before Malan and Sam Robson guided the visitors to 36-1.

But Robson, a candidate for an England Test place, edged behind off Joe Anyon for only 11 and that sparked a regular clatter of wickets.

Veteran seamer Lewis had Neil Dexter caught behind and then bowled Morgan the very next ball, but Adam Rossington prevented the hat-trick.

Malan hit six fours in his 35 but he became Lewis’s third victim and the lower order offered little resistance as Middlesex slipped to 86-9.

Once Sussex had mopped up the last wicket, they too found batting a little tricky, with Murtagh accounting for skipper Ed Joyce and the dangerous Michael Yardy.

But Matt Prior (32 not out) led the recovery for Sussex and they were just 19 runs behind when the weather closed in.

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