Sussex v Middlesex, Hove, 4th day April 9, 2014

Middlesex collapse wrecks Rogers' day


Sussex 386 (Prior 125, Anyon 50, Finn 6-80) beat Middlesex 105 (Anyon 4-24, Magoffin 3021) and 154 (Magoffin 5056, Anyon 3-67)by an innings and 127 runs

Chris Rogers had a lot to reflect on at the Wisden dinner. Named as a Cricketer of the Year he could take pride in a consistent career which has been finally rewarded at Test level. But domestic cricket has been his main patch and he has overseen a mess of a performance from Middlesex in the opening match of 2014.

Billed as potential champions, Middlesex will have to play a good deal better than this. A collapse of 8 for 33 saw them lose before lunch on the final day and begin the season with a hammering in little over six sessions after the second day at Hove had been lost to rain.

Without Rogers, who made 1068 Championship runs last year, and Sam Robson, 1180 in 2013, Middlesex have often veered off course but here, with Robson out on the third evening, they finished in a mangled heap once their captain was dismissed 40 minutes into the final day in what became a shocking highlight of their middle-order deficiencies.

The weakness was identified by Sussex captain Ed Joyce: "The two openers have been big batsmen for them over the past couple of years and if you can get them out the middle order is potentially a bit vulnerable, looking at the averages."

Joyce described the loss of quick wickets as the "Hove Cluster" - such things tend to happen here - but Middlesex suffered a Hove Calamity. James Anyon, bustling up the hill from the Sea End, marched them to the shore, and Steve Magoffin kicked them into the water to finish with five wickets.

Sussex's consistency with the ball was crucial with enough swing available to cause problems. The opening overs were settled before Anyon struck and carnage ensued. Rogers looked to play to leg and was caught by wicketkeeper Ben Brown; Eoin Morgan failed again, also feathering an edge behind; Adam Rossington was Anyon's third wicket, lbw looking to play square too.

Jon Lewis floated a wide delivery that Neil Dexter couldn't resist driving at; he edged to third slip. A better Lewis delivery saw Dawid Malan caught at first slip. Magoffin then blew away the tail with an ugly flattening of stumps.

Middlesex's Championship challenge faltered towards the end of last season and it will take a defiant response towards perceived weaknesses even to get in the frame this year. They now have three matches at Lord's to find a response. They need to work not just on their batting, but all aspects of their game.

"We got outplayed throughout the whole game," Rogers said. "We've had a very poor game. We've got some questions that need to be answered. It's not a great way to start the season.

"We played poorly all round and we got what we deserved. Even if we had scored 200 in the first innings we'd have been in the game. And then there was a crucial dropped catch. We had a lot of players who performed below expectations. We had no one apart from Steve Finn who stood up and for only one person to do that in a game is not good enough.

"At the beginning of the season we're thinking we've got half a chance to be contending at the end but not with performances like that. But we've only had one bad game, that can happen, and we have to get better."

Sussex also began 2013 with an innings victory and will hope to go a couple of places better than last year's third place. They have a very solid bowling attack with Jon Lewis' six wickets here a fine start to what could be a second wind for his career. Chris Jordan is also to come back but it was his batting that Joyce identified as a key component in Sussex's development.

"We bowled a lot more consistently then they did and showed more fight with the bat and our lower order really contributed well," Joyce said. "We've been working hugely hard over the winter to try and improve the lower order batting. We looked at the teams who have won the title over the past few years and they seem to be scoring runs from six down.

"We did a lot talking over the winter as a group and went to Spain together to come up with a bowling plan; it's pretty simple to hit the same spot lots and lots of times and we did that in this game. It's obviously a great start."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arjun on April 11, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    3021 & 5056, Magoffin had a cracking game. Well done to Sussex for getting more runs than that, heroic effort in vain. Much like Ned Stark from GoT

  • Mark on April 10, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    @Codandchips How many Test sides have a quality spinner? Not many! Just look at some of the options put out in the World T20. Rayner is not so poor compared to what is on offer. It's natural to look at the field after several years of Swann and Monty and lament the lack of a ready-made replacement, but there are bowlers who would make a decent job of it, including Tredwell, whose struggles were mainly down to other things than lack of ability.

    Incidentally, as an attacking bowler, Ravi Patel at Middlesex is a better option than Rayner, but there is no question that having him competing has improved Ollie Rayner nicely. Forget the Australian propaganda about Kerrigan: he is a class act and got nervous on debut (as many had predicted - Ian Botham's first Test spell was wild and expensive too due to nerves, but he turned out okay). He will get a lot of Test wickets when he has matured a little more.

  • Simon on April 10, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    Good old Sussex by the Sea. We've got one of the best non-international seam attacks going at the moment, particulalry with Jordan to come back in for, presumably, the promising Piolet. No spinenr as such, although hopefully Beer will get a shot later.

    For England i think early season form will count for a lot but my XI for the first test at the moment would be: Cook*, Ali, Compton, Bell, Taylor, Stokes, Prior+, Broad, Tredwell, Anderson, Onions. With other options being Root, Woakes (depending on how Stokes comes back from injury), Davies, Monty (if he's bowling well) and Jordan.

    Depressingly though, I'm half expecting a Hales or a Morgan to jump into the middle order.

  • Paulo on April 10, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer I agree that the spin battle is the most interesting. I believe though that the reason there are so many options is due to the lack of quality. The field is open. Monty has the history but recently has been a poor bowler, Tredwell was terrible last championship season but has been the best ODI bowler in the last couple of years, Kerrigan has the county stats but nightmare debut, Rayner has played with the Lions but isn't great, Borthwick isn't really a front-line spinner but has the knack of taking wickets with poor deliveries. Some people get excited by Rashid and Rafiq. I reckon even Dean Cosker and Danny Briggs might consider themselves with chances.

    Re Bresnan I hope England forget about him. He has just looked innocuous for too long now whenever he plays for England. I'd rather see the likes of Onions, Plunkett or even Topley or Mills than Bresnan.

    @SDHM thanks for the info. I'd bat Taylor at 3.

  • Samuel on April 10, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    @CodandChips - Taylor picked up a side strain last week. Should be fit for Notts' next game, although with Hales, who likely wouldnt' have played if Taylor had been fit, making important runs in the first innings at Trent Bridge it'll be interesting to see how they shuffle the batting order to slot him back in. I'd personally drop Mullaney and move Hales back up top to bring Taylor back in at 4, but Newell might see it differently.

    Regarding this game, on the one hand Middlesex shouldn't panic too much - it's the first game of the season after all; this time last year Sussex whacked Yorkshire up at Headingley & Yorkshire went on to finish above them, & Warwickshire also trounced Durham, who went on to win it, in the early weeks, so a defeat early is not catastrophic. On the other though, the same old frailties remain & nothing has been done to address the middle order. Harris & TRJ are flattering to deceive too. Much to think about before the next round.

  • Mark on April 10, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    @Codandchips I think that, based on the winter Tests, Stuart Broad is one of the few certainties. However, if his early season form is poor and players such as Jordan, Meaker and Anderson are doing better, I don't see why he would be picked. I suspect that there will be an element of experiment in the squads to play Sri Lanka. Cook has been almost invisible since Australia and that may be a hint that even his place is not assured v Sri Lanka.

    I am a little concerned with Tim Bresnan. He needs some decent form to get in the frame. The really interesting one though will be the spinner: there are many possible options: all-seam attack with Borthwick & Root supplying any spin; Tredwell; Kerrigan; there may even be a left-field pick such as Rayner if he shows early form.

    One of the good things is that the selectors are not committed to anyone right now. They can pick the best XII as they see it based on 32 days of County Championship form.

  • Paulo on April 10, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer you may not include Broad and Cook as certain starters (justifiably imo as nobody should be unless they show good county form) but I'm sure England management think differently.

    At the start of this summer the team looked like this: Cook, Bell, Root, Stokes (if fit) with 2/3 batting places up for grabs, wicket keeper open, Anderson, Broad, seamer (probably Bres) and spinner. Prior scoring a hundred may have already guarenteed his place. England are like that. I just hope James Taylor gets his chance, though I wonder why he didn't play vs Lancs?

  • Mark on April 10, 2014, 6:50 GMT

    @Codandchips It was mentioned yesterday. No great surprise as his success for England in all formats has come batting around #6. Let him serve his apprenticeship there and then push him up the order.

    We haven't even seen a lot of the possibles (Jordan, Broad, Cook, etc.) have even one county match. There is loads of time in 8 rounds of games for players to catch the eye and, this time, no excuse for not picking the side on form. I certainly wouldn't even include Broad and Cook as certain starters. To be honest, I am not even sure that Morgan will be in the Middlesex XI come May - he would not be in many people's best XI for them. He's reputed to be a big game player and, to be fair, has done it in Tests, but I do not think that he will ever be a big scorer at the top level.

  • Paulo on April 10, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer fair enough. I just feel that England's love for Morgan will see him get picked. After all his record wasn't great at the time of his first call up but they still picked him.

    Also what's this agreement about Root in the middle order?

  • Jonny on April 10, 2014, 1:14 GMT

    Sussex need more pace? Anyon is one of the quicker bowlers on the circuit...

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