Chris Jordan starred with 5 for 28 and teenager Phil Salt hit 81 from 76 balls as Sussex bowled out Middlesex for 191 to win by 31 runs in a rain-shortened Royal London One-Day Cup South Group game at Hove.
Jordan, bowling with impressive pace and firing in his toe-crushing yorkers seemingly at will, topped and tailed the Middlesex innings after Sussex had totalled 222 for 7.
It was Sussex’s first win in the competition this season, at the third attempt, and Salt was joined in a third wicket stand of 125 in 18 overs with New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor, who hit a 44-ball 54 despite finishing his innings with a runner because of a pulled hamstring.
Ben Brown’s entertaining cameo of 31 not out from 13 balls pushed Sussex on to a challenging total in a match reduced to 32 overs per side, and it proved too much for Middlesex despite both Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan getting starts with 44 and 31 respectively.
England one-day fast bowler Jordan struck twice with the new ball to bowl Dawid Malan for a duck and have Paul Stirling caught – after a juggle – by Brown behind the stumps for 4, and he later returned to pick up three tailend wickets as Sussex wrapped up the match with little fuss with eight balls remaining unbowled.
Left arm seamer George Garton and leg-spinner Will Beer also made important breakthroughs for Sussex after McCullum, who hit a six and six fours in his 37-ball effort, and Morgan, with five fours, threatened to mount a challenge with a third wicket partnership of 40.
Garton, 19 and in only his third List A appearance, had McCullum well held on the deep square leg boundary while Beer bowled Morgan behind his legs and then flummoxed John Simpson with a googly to have the left-hander caught by Jordan at slip.
Beer’s seven overs brought him 2 for 34 and Garton later had Nick Gubbins caught behind for 37 after he and James Franklin had offered some defiant blows. Franklin’s 28 was ended when he swung Danny Briggs’s left-arm spin to deep mid wicket where substitute fielder Luke Wells dived forward to take a fine catch.
Play did not get under way until 2pm due to overnight and morning rain but, when it did, there was some rich entertainment for a sparse crowd well down in numbers on the 2,500 or so who would have been expected to attend on a sunny day.
Chris Nash survived a difficult high chance to slip the ball before Toby Roland-Jones nipped one back from down the Hove slope to bowl him for 11. And Sussex looked to be vulnerable when Luke Wright, after one hoicked six off Roland-Jones, was held at mid on off the same bowler for 15 in the seventh over – the last of the initial powerplay in this reduced-overs contest.
Salt and Taylor, however, grew in authority the longer they were together and also capitalised on some moments of good fortune. Salt, on 15, was beaten by a beauty from James Fuller which jagged away from his defensive bat and on 32 edged Fuller just short of first slip. Taylor, on 24, was badly missed by Fuller at deep mid wicket when he skied a pull at Franklin’s left-arm seamers.
Fuller, in fact, did not lay a hand on the ball. Running in too fast from the boundary edge to position himself for the catch, he momentarily lost his footing and the slip disorientated him so much that, in the end, the ball sailed over his head and plopped to the turf as the batsmen ran two.
Salt and Taylor added 125 in 18 overs, and there were some memorable strokes in the partnership which provided the meat in Sussex’s total. A reverse sweep four by Salt off Stirling’s off spin was followed later by an extraordinary reverse flip which went high for four to the unguarded third man ropes. The teenager also produced a superb straight-driven four off Fuller to reach his 52-ball 50, while Taylor merely upped his own tempo after calling for Nash to act as his runner when, on 26, he strained a hamstring muscle.
In the 22nd over Taylor mowed Nathan Sowter’s leg spin over mid wicket for six and, next ball, swept him hard for four before reaching his own 50 three overs later with a six swung off Stirling. From the next ball, however, attempting something similar, he was well held by Sowter on the deep square leg boundary.
Salt soon followed, bowled by Franklin, and neither Harry Finch, Jordan nor Beer lasted long as Sussex slumped from 164 for 3 to 185 for 7. Finch, after one lovely straight four, was bowled swinging at Franklin for 8, Jordan was comically run out for 7 by the bowler after trying to swing Roland-Jones to leg, slipping over when looking for a sharp single and failing to crawl back into his crease, while Beer was leg-before to the next ball.
Brown, however, hoisted Fuller for successive sixes in the final over after previously ramping Roland-Jones brilliantly for four and also earning seven runs in total for two pulls to deep square leg. In all, 30 runs came from the last two overs as Sussex, thanks to Brown, finally managed to build significantly on the Salt-Taylor stand.