Eoin Morgan's 78-ball 6 highlights Middlesex's batting struggle

Jofra Archer was in the wickets for Sussex Getty Images

Sussex 120 for 6 trail Middlesex 169 (Holden 50*, Jordan 3-26, Archer 3-34) by 49 runs

Less than three years have passed since the domestic schedule was changed to avoid counties constantly switching between formats, but if this Sussex bowling effort was anything to go by then nothing could be easier than transitioning between T20 and a promotion charge.

After a clinical quarter-final win at Chester-le-Street on Friday night, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer and David Wiese slipped seamlessly back into four-day mode, bowling with control and discipline to dismiss Middlesex for 169 in helpful conditions.

But adapting to the demands of red-ball cricket proved harder for the batsmen. Their recent victory over Derbyshire was a fast-scoring effort on a pitch that allowed them to continue their Blast aggression, but a gloomy final hour under the Lord's lights saw them let slip the opportunity to make Middlesex pay for their underwhelming efforts with the bat.

While Sussex's short-form bowling attack often resembles the Harlem Globetrotters, such is the box-office nature of Tymal Mills' raw pace and Rashid Khan's spellbinding legspin, this was an old-fashioned demonstration of the merits of hitting a consistent line and length, as the four seamers shared ten wickets between them.

Chris Jordan said: "It did a lot all day and in the morning when we took four wickets we could have taken even more. It swung, there was some seam movement as well and I thought our bowlers exploited the conditions really well.

We were pleased with the score we restricted them to but we knew it would be tough for us as well, even though it was a shorter session after tea to bat. But we bat all the way down to 11 and we're going to need every run."

In the morning session, Middlesex's misfiring top order all threatened stoicism before falling cheaply, as Sam Robson, Stevie Eskinazi and Dawid Malan were all trapped lbw by inswingers, and Nick Gubbins' loose drive saw him caught at second slip.

It is easy to forget that Middlesex have won three of their last four Championship games, such is the mood around the club following another disastrous Blast season and the departure of Richard Scott, but those wins have relied on third and fourth-day fightbacks after poor starts.

While every batsman except for Australians Adam Voges and George Bailey from the title-winning 2016 side is still on the club's books, a collective failure to find the form of that campaign has led to something of a slump in the two years since. This was the fifth time in ten games this season that they have failed to secure a single first-innings batting point; only once have they passed 250 in their first innings.

The one find since that year in batting terms has been Max Holden, whose unbeaten 50 was a gritty and determined innings from a man still learning his game. Two gift-wrapped cover drives stuck in the mind, but it was his dogged defence and patience at the crease that will provide the club with reason to believe he has a bright future.

When he last played a first-class game on this ground, Jordan was England's newest and most promising seamer in the 2014 Test against Sri Lanka, and while that reputation has changed considerably in the past four years, his mid-afternoon spell was a reminder of his ability as he found pronounced movement off the seam.

First, Jordan ended Eoin Morgan's torturous innings of 6, which spanned 78 balls and had the aesthetic value of a brutalist Eastern European tower block, before he bowled both Ollie Rayner and James Fuller to put Sussex firmly on top.

If Sussex's seamers were metronomic, Middlesex's started with the rhythm of Theresa May dancing in front of a group of South African schoolchildren. They sprayed the new ball about on a pitch that rewarded discipline, but then dragged themselves back into the game as they found their groove in a final hour which changed the day's complexion.

The Sussex top three fell to aggressive strokes, before three late strikes - including Luke Wright, who ended up on the rough end of a harsh lbw decision - gave Middlesex hope of a manageable deficit if not a first-innings lead.

It will take a much better day with both bat and ball for them to edge in front in this game, and a rekindling of the fighting spirit in their recent wins. But Sussex ended this day on top, and creeping ever closer to a promotion which few would claim to be undeserved.

Sussex 4th innings Partnerships

1st7LWP WellsPD Salt
2nd34PD SaltTJ Haines
3rd17HZ FinchTJ Haines
4th1LJ WrightHZ Finch
5th27BC BrownHZ Finch
6th25D WieseBC Brown
7th3D WieseCJ Jordan
8th0D WieseJC Archer
9th14D WieseOE Robinson
10th47D WieseDR Briggs