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Ollie Robinson's 14-wicket haul fuels Sussex promotion challenge

Ollie Robinson roars at the fall of another wicket Getty Images

Sussex 309 (Wells 62, Carey 56, Beer 77, Roland-Jones 5 for 70) and 145 for 3 (Carey 69*) beat Middlesex 75 (Robinson 8 for 34) and 378 (Simpsone 89, Robson 68, Harris 66, Robinson 6-101) by seven wickets

As Jofra Archer attracts nationwide acclaim during an exciting debut summer for England, Sussex pulled off a heartening victory on a sunny Hove evening to help them come to terms with the long goodbye.

The belief that life largely without Archer can still be worth living will be strengthened by a seven-wicket margin against Middlesex that has kept their hopes of promotion from Division Two burning, a win parcelled up by Ollie Robinson as he returned Sussex's best match figures in the Championship for more than 50 years.

Sussex move fifth, 11 points off a promotion place with three matches remaining. Middlesex are a further five points adrift in sixth and will rue their collapse to 75 all out in the first innings. Little went right for Middlesex right from the moment on the first day when a seagull swooped at third man and stole Tim Murtagh's banana. A side lower on points and potassium levels than they would wish.

Not since 1964 when James Bond came into contact with Goldfinger, Milton Keynes was just a plan on a Government drawing board, and the Great Train Robbers were found guilty, has a Sussex bowler made such an impact: Ian Thomson including a ten-for in his analysis of 15 for 75 against Warwickshire at Worthing.

Robinson's exertions did not quite deliver a formality: Sussex's pursuit of 145 on the third evening was an awkward one, even if the pitch remained sound. Australian Alex Carey signed on for Twenty20, but happily added a Championship match to his duties and imposed himself on the run chase with an unbeaten 69 from 54 balls. He will soon be joined for the Blast by his fellow Australian, Jason Behrendorff.

Carey played with authority from the outset and had a run-a-ball 26 when Middlesex gambled on the legspin of Nathan Sowter at 88 for 3. Carey spotted his moment, blasting three successive sixes over the leg side arc with consummate self-belief. A fourth followed against the last ball of an over that cost 24.

Sussex initially lost three wickets for 44 with most misery heaped on Harry Finch whose 14-ball duck - caught at first slip when Murtagh made one bounce - gave him pairs in his last two Championship matches, against Durham and now Middlesex.

Without Robinson's heroics, Sussex could have sunk because their attack was a thin one. In fact, even with his match aggregate of 14 for 135, including his 6 for 101 in Middlesex's second innings, there were fleeting moments when their first-innings lead of 234 was not quite invulnerable.

Robinson took four of the six wickets to fall on the third day, the best of them a booming inswinger from around the wicket which crashed into John Simpson's off stump as he succumbed to a leave-alone on 89.

Middlesex were still 85 behind when they resumed their second innings on the third morning at 149 for 4. Much rested upon the initial joust between Robinson and Sam Robson, who had made a considered 61 not out the previous evening. Half an hour into an excellent contest, Robinson got his man for 68, a defensive push that flew to second slip.

Simpson carried the fight, however, supported by James Harris in a sixth-wicket stand of 87 in 18 overs. Simpson played conservatively against Robinson and met the rest of Sussex's attack with crisp strokeplay. Jared Warner, a Yorkshire loanee, was sharp yet short; Elliott Hooper, a slow left-armer on debut, as dishevelled as a scruffed-up bed with shirt hanging loosely around his trousers.

Twenty minutes before lunch, Simpson's straight drive against legspinner Will Beer gave Middlesex the lead and caused Sussex brief alarm when Beer, in his efforts to prevent the boundary, left the field for treatment on a bruised finger. Sussex began to anticipate the second new ball indecently early.

They were helped by a quicksilver stumping by Ben Brown off Tom Haines; Toby Roland-Jones must have lifted his back foot only for a millisecond but it was long enough for umpire Ben Debenham to adjudicate in Sussex's favour.

If Haines had held a simple catch from Harris, which looped to gully off bat and pad, when he was only 5, Sussex's chase would have been so much easier. Harris was let-off again by Haines on 41 and was eventually ninth out for 66 when he attempted an ambitious step-away pull against Robinson.

Even then, Middlesex's lead was only 65, but Steve Finn and Murtagh enjoyed some last-wicket malarkey as they added another 79 in 16. Finn's 56 from 65 balls equalled his career-best first-class score in a Test in Dunedin six years ago.

On that occasion, he batted for nearly five hours and, at one point, was strokeless for so long that a single was marked by a celebratory toot from the Barmy Army trumpeter Billy Cooper.

On this occasion, his long limbs flailed in all directions as if he was Benjamin Zander conducting Beethoven's 9th at breakneck speed, but there was not a sound to be heard, only the shuffling of chairs on the Middlesex balcony as they contemplated the likelihood of a defeat that has severely dented their promotion chances.

Sussex 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
18LWP WellsPD Salt
21LWP WellsTJ Haines
5LWP WellsHZ Finch
101AT CareyLWP Wells