David Wiese’s second five-wicket haul of the season gave Sussex the upper hand as they steamrollered Middlesex for 138 on the opening day of their County Championship game at Lord’s.
Wiese finished with figures of 5-26 from 15 overs, ripping through Middlesex’s middle order after the home side had opted to bat first.
The South African all-rounder was backed up by fellow seamers Ollie Robinson and Mir Hamza, who shared the rest of the wickets to skittle Middlesex in just 43.4 overs, with wicketkeeper Ben Brown also claiming five dismissals.
Sussex found batting far easier when they replied, with Phil Salt hitting a half-century and Stiaan Van Zyl undefeated on 46 as they advanced to 169-4, a lead of 31 runs.
Wiese said after the close of play: “We didn’t feel that, in our previous game against Glamorgan, we hit our straps as a bowling unit and we spoke about being relentless and not giving anything away. That was the aim today – it wasn’t about trying to beat the bat or ping it in and out the whole time.
“It was about hitting the top of off stump and fortunately one or two went our way and we got a little burgle down leg, which always helps a bit. It was nice just to be consistent again. For me, I bowl my best when I keep it simple and I always feel the slightly older ball here is more consistent when it comes to swinging. I enjoy bowling with the new ball once in a while but I do feel my niche is just coming in first change when the ball’s slightly older and hitting that consistent line and length.
“Ollie Robinson’s a quality bowler and it’s nice to have him back. We missed him in the last two games, just having that impact with the new ball and we saw it again today – it’s fairly seldom that he doesn’t nip out one or two with that new ball.”
Middlesex’s decision to bat looked questionable from the start, with the visitors’ pacemen finding plenty of movement in humid conditions.
Openers Sam Robson (18) and Max Holden (12) both survived edges that fell short of the slips before Robson became the first to depart, nudging an outswinger from Robinson into the keeper’s gloves.
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Nick Gubbins (2) soon followed, caught down the leg side off Hamza, before Wiese turned the screw, wrecking Middlesex’s top order with consistent spells either side of the lunch interval.
Holden and John Simpson (4) perished to loose drives outside off stump, while both Dawid Malan (15) and Stevie Eskinazi (6) were caught behind fishing at good-length deliveries.
Toby Roland-Jones (14) lifted the Middlesex total into three figures with a couple of crisp cover drives to the boundary before becoming the fifth victim of the day for both Wiese and Brown.
Robinson (3-50) then got in on the act, reducing the home side to 110-9 with lbw decisions to remove Ollie Rayner (0) and Ethan Bamber (5).
James Harris began to play with some freedom, launching Chris Jordan into the grandstand for six as he shared a last-wicket stand of 28 with Tim Murtagh.
But Hamza (2-35) finished off the innings by claiming the 300th wicket of his first-class career as he bowled Murtagh (10), leaving Harris unbeaten on 38.
Middlesex’s total represented their lowest first-innings score in red-ball cricket since they posted 98 against Worcestershire at the end of the 2015 season.
The visitors quickly set about wiping out the deficit, with Salt going for his shots and utilising the short boundary on the leg side as he raced towards a brisk 50.
Although they lost Luke Wells (7), leg before to Murtagh, Harry Finch helped Salt to reach 78-1 at tea – only 60 short of the modest Middlesex total.
The evergreen Murtagh gave his side fresh hope, pinning Finch (27) lbw in the first over after tea and then clean bowling Salt.
Laurie Evans, lbw to Harris for 31, was the only other wicket to fall before the close – but by then Sussex had already established a lead and they begin the second day as comfortable favourites.