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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Mills 'gets by' as he preys on feeble Middlesex

Sussex 134 for 3 (Wright 47, Machan 30) beat Middlesex 133 for 8 (Mills 4-22) by 7 wickets
Scorecard

It seems curious, counterintuitive even, that on a perfect summer's evening and with 18,000 people at Lord's, the powers-that-be served up a used, sickly pitch not conducive to free-flowing cricket.

Sure, they like televised games to be played on the more central strips. Sure, there's a hell of a lot of cricket played at Lord's, not least an Ashes Test in exactly a fortnight. But surely - especially with Middlesex, with many explosive batsmen suited to marmalising on flat decks, in such dire straits in the South Group - the pitch could have been better than this?

Not that Sussex minded. They strolled to an under-par target with 28 balls to spare to take their place atop the South Group and give their net runrate a shot in the arm, too. They have now won four consecutive games and four consecutive away from home, too. Another insipid Middlesex performance - as grey as the pitch - leaves them firmly bottom.

More eye-catching was the performance of Tymal Mills. At his best, his pace, his leftiness and his clever slower balls mean that the Mills bandwagon is never far from gaining pace even in a season when he has admitted that a congenital back condition might force him to consider a future as a T20 specialist.

He was flattered a bit by his return of 4 for 22, with three caught on the fence, but he impressed nevertheless, bowling in the powerplay and at the death, picking up wickets at both ends and not leaking runs as he often does, with 14 dot balls.

He took wickets with the first ball of his first two overs - Dawid Malan knocking a loosener straight to third man and Nick Compton playing on when trying to pull. His final over - the last of the innings - produced the wickets of Andy Balbirnie, caught at cow, the run out of James Franklin, then, next ball, another Kiwi, Mitchell McClenaghan.

Middlesex's captain Eoin Morgan was quick to praise Mills's man of the match display. "The pitch was very slow which made it tough to get going. But Mills was impressive, and showed tonight he has something about him."

One senses that some of those who attend for their slice of Thursday night fun - the Tesco on nearby Circus Road around 6pm more resembles Piccadilly Circus as fans flock to pick their allotted bottle of wine or four cans of cold stuff - don't entirely mind what happens in the middle.

But there's little doubt that when a game can't manage a close finish (as this one most certainly couldn't) many measure the entertainment value of a night at the white-ball stuff by the number of times the ball sails into the stands. A sorry four here said plenty.

Middlesex's innings was one of those stuttering, sluggish efforts their fans have become so accustomed to in a format that has now surely reached bête noire status. To illustrate, the ball crossed the rope as often as Middlesex batsmen did - nine.

Six overs of crabby, miserly slow bowling from Mike Yardy and Matt Machan - the latter has admitted to modelling his bowling on the former in this format - proved almost impossible to off the square, with each picking up the wickets of relatively set batsmen and only twice between them being hit for more than a single run off a ball.

Paul Stirling briefly gave hope of a respectable Middlesex total - they seem to rely on the impetus provided by his starts - by giving himself room and carting Mills into the Grandstand, then taking three fours from Chris Liddle's second over, through cover, to fine-leg and over mid-off, before meekly lofting Yardy to Mills at short fine-leg.

Morgan himself never got going, and fell amid an arid patch that saw Middlesex go 56 balls without a boundary. Balbirnie and Franklin added 38 to add respectability to the total, before the innings ended with that Mills-made whimper.

Sussex's chase was a far more fluent effort, but there was an air of generosity about Middlesex's bowling, and even fielding, right from the off. With the first two balls of the innings, Ollie Raynerwas swept to the fence by Chris Nash, while the third delivery was worth two, but only because the ball went straight through Ravi Patel at point. Nash was lbw to McClenaghan's second ball for Middlesex, struck in front.

Luke Wright continued his fine form in sharing 75 with Matt Machan. Both batsmen showed incredibly fast, powerful hands and disdain for meek bowling. Machan flashed his wrists to batter Harry Podmore's first over down the ground, then over mid-off, then through midwicket for four, while Wright bunted Patel over long-off for six.

Only McClenaghan threatened, and he was rewarded with both players' wickets. For Machan it was ouch then out, wrapped behind dead in front behind the pad and limping from the field, while Wright top-edged a pull. Alas McClenaghan picked up an injury himself, with a dislocated, possibly fractured finger.

Craig Cachopa - who sent consecutive Patel deliveries over midwicket for six - and George Bailey saw Sussex home. Perhaps only they will have left having felt like they had got their money's worth.

Sussex 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st13LJ WrightCD Nash
2nd75LJ WrightMW Machan
3rd2MW MachanCraig Cachopa
4th44GJ BaileyCraig Cachopa