On the day that Middlesex's own battalion of EU or residentially qualified overseas players were paraded at Lord's for the first home fixture of the new season, it was apposite that their thunder was stolen by Sussex's Tim Ambrose.
Chad Keegan, Andrew Strauss, Sven Koenig – all born in South Africa – and Ireland's Ed Joyce were overshadowed by the visitors' Australian, who holds a British passport, and yesterday held up Middlesex as he compiled a useful half-century.
At one stage the home side had threatened to deny Sussex a point as their barrel-chested former Australian policeman Joe Dawes rumbled in to great effect from the Pavilion End and the admirable Keegan applied himself from the other end.
Dawes found awkward bounce and the edge of Murray Goodwin's bat, then had Tony Cottey leg before and tempted Robin Martin-Jenkins into an ill-advised pull to square leg.
Only Ambrose was able to defy the two pace men, although he contrived to get an inside edge on to a delivery from Simon Cook when on 51. It was bad luck, because he had looked assured and aggressive, and made the Middlesex fielders tear all over the new £1.25m outfield.
With Keegan having accounted for Richard Montgomerie early on and Mushtaq Ahmed later, and Paul Weekes' off-spin snuffing out Sussex big hopes, Chris Adams and Matthew Prior, a pointless innings looked on the cards for the visitors.
But Jason Lewry and James Kirtley rescued the situation. They carved, sliced and edged their way to a last-wicket stand of 67 – a Sussex record against Middlesex. They had their fair share of luck. Kirtley appeared to present Abdul Razzaq with a high, but straightforward-looking return catch off the first ball of the Pakistani's second spell, although Sussex had their point in the bag by then.
It ended with Lewry two runs short of his career-best 47 when he became Razzaq's solitary victim, caught on the cover boundary by Ben Hutton, but he and his partner Kirtley had not finished with Middlesex.
Within an over of each other Kirtley had Strauss caught behind and Lewry had bowled Owais Shah. Their first bowling point came towards the end of a long day when Martin-Jenkins bowled David Nash. The departure of nightwatchman Cook, who chopped Mushtaq on to his stumps left Koenig and Joyce to do their bit for their adopted country.
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