Morgan fails to stem Sussex tide
Eoin Morgan scored 58 in his first LV= County Championship appearance of the season for Middlesex but Sussex remain in control of the top-versus-bottom match at Uxbridge.
The visitors ended the third day on 109 for five in their second innings, leading by 211 and with genuine hope of a victory that would cement their spot at the top of the Division Two.
Morgan’s innings was the highlight of Middlesex’s 350 all out, but he was bowled just before lunch attempting to pull a quicker ball from off-spinner Ollie Rayner that seemed to scuttle through a little low.
It was a disappointing end to a bright 85-ball knock from the 23-year-old, whose first scoring shot was a lofted on-drive for six off Monty Panesar and who later also hit Rayner down the ground for a second six to go with his six fours.
Morgan is hoping to be named on Sunday in the squad for the opening npower Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, which starts next Thursday, but first he might have to play another significant innings for his county if Middlesex are to stave off defeat.
Sussex will begin the final day within sight of building a potentially match-winning lead, despite some effective new-ball bowling from Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones, who took over the mantle when Iain O’Brien limped off the field with a leg injury.
Finn opened the innings with a marathon 16-over spell - four overs before tea and 12 afterwards - and was fiery enough throughout to suggest his fitness for next week’s first Test is not in doubt.
Corey Collymore was Sussex’s best bowler as they worked their way steadily through the Middlesex batting order following the home side’s resumption on 127 for two.
John Simpson did not add to his overnight 58 before being well held by a diving Rayner at second slip off Collymore, but Morgan and Dawid Malan shared an attractive stand of 103 until Panesar bowled the latter as he tried an over-ambitious slog-sweep.
Although Neil Dexter and Gareth Berg held up Sussex for a while, Berg was bowled by medium-pacer Michael Thornely and Collymore and Lewis Hatchett cleaned up the innings with the second new ball.
Dexter edged Collymore to second slip, Shaun Udal was caught at the wicket to give impressive left-armer Hatchett his maiden championship wicket, Roland-Jones had his off stump removed by Collymore and Finn was castled by Hatchett.
That earned Sussex a first-innings lead of 102, but if they thought they would romp away from Middlesex with the bat in the final session then they reckoned without the fine combined effort of Finn and Roland-Jones.
From 36 without loss at tea, Sussex lost four wickets for 29 runs as Chris Nash and Ed Joyce fell to a pumped-up Finn after Mike Yardy had played on to Roland-Jones, who then sent back Matt Prior cheaply even though the England Test wicketkeeper looked baffled to be given out caught behind.
Murray Goodwin hit 35, and added a hard-fought 40 for the fifth wicket with Thornely before being trapped lbw by Dexter.