Prior looks to defy elements

England wicketkeeper Matt Prior was among the runs as Sussex had the better of the first day of their opening LV= County Championship Division One match against Middlesex at the County Ground.

In conditions that clearly favoured the bowlers, Prior was unbeaten on 32 when bad light brought a premature end to play with Sussex on 86 for three in reply to Middlesex’s paltry 105.

Prior, who overcome an Achilles problem to play as a specialist batsman, arguably needs a strong start to the county season to boost his England hopes after being dropped for the final two winter Ashes Tests.

The hosts had earlier bowled out Middlesex in less than 50 overs – veteran seamer Jon Lewis, making his Sussex debut after moving from Surrey, doing much of the damage with a spell of 4-12 after lunch.

Jon Lewis, on his Sussex debut following a move from Surrey, ousts Dawid Malan, Middlesex's top-scorer with 35, en route to excellent figures of 4-34

Sussex won an important toss and, after a started delayed for an hour by the elements, they struck with the 13th ball when Australia opener Chris Rogers was caught by Steffan Piolet at third slip off Steve Magoffin for four.

The visitors attempted to steady the ship as England Lions opener Sam Robson and Dawid Malan guided them to 36 for one before the former fell when he nicked James Anyon behind for 11.

Middlesex moved beyond 50 with only two wickets down but things began to go wrong in the 21st over.

Lewis had Neil Dexter caught behind and was on a hat-trick when he bowled another England Test hopeful, Eoin Morgan.

That was the final delivery of the over, and Adam Rossington successfully fended off the hat-trick ball in Lewis’ next set of six, but there was little respite for Middlesex.

Malan fell to Lewis for 35, by some way his side’s best score, and the Sussex medium-pacer then picked up his fourth wicket when Rossington gave wicketkeeper Ben Brown a third catch.

Toby Roland-Jones provided some resistance down the order with 17 but Middlesex lost their last eight scalps for just 48 runs.

Sussex’s first wicket fell with the score on 12 when Tim Murtagh bowled Ireland team-mate Ed Joyce.

Luke Wells was the second man to go, making just four, but the Sussex batsmen began to get a foothold and, although Michael Yardy gave Murtagh a second breakthrough, Prior and Matt Machan, who was unbeaten on 21, guided the hosts safely through to the close.

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