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County Championship: Sam Robson century helps Middlesex beat Sussex to go top of Division Two

Sam Robson
Sam Robson’s 149 came off 181 balls and featured 16 fours plus a six
LV= County Championship Division Two, 1st Central County Ground, Hove (day four)
Sussex 392 & 335-4 dec: Pujara 170*, Clark 77, Alsop 66
Middlesex 358 & 370-3: Robson 149, Holden 80, Handscomb 79; Robinson 2-51
Middlesex (23 pts) beat Sussex (7 pts) by seven wickets

Middlesex chased down a target of 370 against Sussex at Hove to win their third match in four in County Championship Division Two.

A partnership of 209 between Sam Robson and captain Peter Handscomb, plus a later stand of 99 between Max Holden and Martin Andersson, saw Middlesex achieve their eighth-highest fourth innings total ever to leave Sussex without a win in five games.

Middlesex got home with 19 balls to spare despite being without the injured Robbie White and after losing opener Mark Stoneman for one in the second over.

When Ollie Robinson dismissed both Handscomb (79) and Robson, whose 149 was his first century since he scored 253 at this ground in September, Sussex still thought they had a chance of at least saving the match.

Robinson returned to the attack at 207-1 and immediately had Handscomb lbw. At 249-2, Middlesex, needing 121 from 20 overs, were clear favourites.

But Robinson, operating in short spells after bowling 24 overs in the first innings, returned again and trapped Robson lbw.

The chase was then taken up by Holden (80 not out) and Andersson (44 not out) who repeated their form of the first innings to hand the visitors victory.

Sussex, who were 225-1 at one stage in their first innings, gave Middlesex 77 overs to score their runs. It was a tempting but not a generous declaration.

The hosts had started the fourth day on 236-3, with a lead of 270, and immediately there was a pre-declaration urgency about their batting.

Cheteshwar Pujara carried on from where he had left off the day before, effortlessly driving the second ball of the morning through the covers for four, then he twice cut Andersson for boundaries.

His next four would have painful consequences for Middlesex batter White – Pujara straight-drove Ethan Bamber and White, diving to stop the ball, was soon writhing in agony.

There was a delay of 10 minutes before White was wheeled from the field on a stretcher trolley and a dislocated left shoulder was later diagnosed.

Middlesex were also without Shaheen Shah Afridi, who did not take the field after feeling unwell in the morning.

Tom Clark was dropped behind when he inside-edged Blake Cullen, with the wicketkeeper going the wrong way. He had moved on to 77 before he was lbw to Luke Hollman.

At that stage, at 335-4, Sussex declared after adding 99 runs in 17 overs with Pujara unbeaten on 170.

In four matches and five completed innings he has scored 717 runs at an average of 143 but neither he nor Sussex have anything to show for his efforts following their latest defeat.

Sussex coach Ian Salisbury:

“I don’t like losing, I really don’t. But sometimes you have to take a risk to win. We knew it was a risk with three bowlers having their first game of the season.

“But I can’t fault the effort of the guys on a good pitch. They gave absolutely everything. I can’t fault Ollie Robinson as a cricketer. You could see how much effort he out into it.

“And George Garton is still trying to get his lungs and his heart right after long Covid. It was never our intention to bat out our second innings for a draw, which we could have done.”

Middlesex captain Peter Handscomb:

“It was an incredible win, to chase down that big total in 74 overs. We saw the moment there and we took it.

“There needs to be conversations about Sam Robson playing for England again. The team looks like it’s going through a restructure and Robbo has been putting it together for three or four years now.

“We’ve already seen that he can make runs opening for England.”

Report supplied by the ECB Reporters’ Network.

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