Godleman sets up easy Middlesex win
Middlesex 177 for 7 (Godleman 58, Yardy 3-24) beat Sussex 139 for 9 (Goodwin 52, Nannes 3-19) by 38 runs
An entertaining half-century from Billy Godleman set up a comfortable 38-run victory for Middlesex at Lord's, where Sussex were never really in the chase after losing a couple of early wickets. Godleman's 58 gave Sussex a challenging target of 178 and although Murray Goodwin tried his best with 52, the Middlesex bowlers, led by Dirk Nannes, were too tight and accurate.
It was a clash between the division's top and bottom teams and they played appropriately for their positions. Middlesex, who entered the game undefeated, got away to a strong start batting first, posted a challenging 177 for 7, and then put in a disciplined bowling display that backed up the efforts of the batsmen.
Sussex, who had not won a match in this year's tournament, relied on a part-time bowler to do most of their damage and could not find a reliable partner for Goodwin in the chase. Once they fell to 30 for 2, the required run-rate ballooned and despite a calm and assured innings from Goodwin, they were never likely to catch up.
Another fast and dangerous spell from Nannes, who took a Twenty20 hat-trick four days ago, ended any vague hopes Sussex might have had of making a late dash for the points. Nannes, who bowls genuinely quick, proved that the best method is sometimes simply to aim for the stumps, bowling Matt Prior for 3 and Goodwin for 52 within one over, before also rattling Andy Hodd's stumps to finish with 3 for 19.
His initial strikes left Sussex at 76 for 5 in the 13th over, and the Lord's crowd of 16,500 had little to do but cheer Middlesex to the inevitable victory. There were some memorable moments for the home team, however, and after doing the job with the bat Godleman nearly provided the catch of the season.
In the third over of the chase, Goodwin pulled Tyron Henderson deep to the midwicket boundary where Godleman stretched his hands above his head and almost gained control of the ball, but felt himself being propelled over the rope. Thinking quickly, he lobbed the ball back up into the field of play and after regaining his footing, dived for a second grab but just could not hang on.
Still, Godleman had provided enough entertainment earlier in the day. His 58 from 34 balls got Middlesex away to a flyer and he took a liking to the legbreaks of Will Beer, hammering him for three consecutive fours including a vicious pull when the bowler dropped short.
After a week when Kevin Pietersen's switch-hitting made headlines it was somehow fitting that Godleman brought up his half-century with a more conventional reverse sweep - if that's not an oxymoron - that ran away for four off Rory Hamilton-Brown. Eoin Morgan took the theme of innovation a step further, setting up to reverse sweep Dwayne Smith, but instead reverse-flicking him over his shoulder and the vacant slip cordon for four.
Both Morgan (28) and Godleman fell to Michael Yardy, whose 3 for 24 from four overs was all that kept Sussex in the match after their strike bowlers were fodder for the top order. Middlesex's fast men did not let the same thing happen to them, and they now sit two games clear on the South Division table.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo