Middlesex’s bottom order frustrate Sussex

Close, day three: Sussex 283 & 34-1, Middlesex 491

Middlesex 7pts, Sussex 4pts

Middlesex’s bottom order all pitched in to take their side into a sizeable lead on day three at Lord’s.

Bowlers Ollie Rayner and Toby Roland-Jones both scored half-centuries after Chris Rogers was denied his century and Eoin Morgan fell for 71.

And John Simpson and Gareth Berg also added scores to craft a lead of 208 runs by the time all the wickets had tumbled for a final reply of 491 all out.

Fellow England fringe player Steve Finn then came in to take a late wicket from Sussex and keep the lead at 172 runs at close.

The skipper Rogers, who ended day two tantalisingly close to a second century of the season short by seven runs, was dishearteningly bowled out with two more runs to get.

Just four overs had been played when England Lions star Luke Wright trapped him lbw for 98.

But Rogers will be relieved to have found his touch after struggling find runs since taking over the captaincy on a temporary basis from Neil Dexter.

His wicket allowed Morgan to shoulder the task however and he quickly bagged some runs from the following 10 or so overs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Steve Magoffin.

With Morgan gone and the new ball in with overcast conditions making batting a challenge, not many would have expected the lower order to do so well.

But Simpson and Berg restored some order to the chase and took Middlesex into the lead before a 50+ partnership between Berg and Rayner proved even more prosperous.

And after Berg’s dismissal at 399-7 with just three wickets left to tumble, few would have predicted another century and more to be put on the board either.

But Rayner and Roland-Jones made it to tea after Tim Murtagh was dismissed with Middlesex at 420-8, and their 76-run partnership was cultured to say the least.

After their wickets were taken in quick succession and Sussex came into bat Finn, Murtagh and Roland-Jones put the heat on the top order and Finn was rewarded with the wicket of Ed Joyce for eight.

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