Things tend to happen when Sussex and their old rivals Hampshire meet, so expect some fireworks tomorrow in the NatWest T20 Blast game at the BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground.
It was clear when Chris Adams and Shane Warne squared up as rival captains for a few years that there wasn’t a lot of mutual admiration. Warne was still one of the best bowlers in the world but couldn’t understand how another leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed was leading Sussex to three Championships in five years. Spicy verbal jousts were commonplace and Warne memorably teased Adams by claiming that the No.1 on the back of his shirt was bigger than the numbers of his team-mates!
It was all fairly harmless but Arundel’s leafy quiet was shattered in 2006 when Sussex staged a T20 game there for the first time.
On a gloomy Tuesday evening, a crowd of just under 4,000 saw Hampshire bat first and score 152 for 6, despite the effervescent Mushy taking four wickets.
Sussex were going well in their reply and Matt Prior and Adams were putting together what looked to be the match-winning partnership when Hampshire bowler Chris Benham appealed for a catch against Adams. The umpire Allan Jones ruled it was a bump ball but realising that the ball was still ‘live’, Benham ran out Prior at the non-striker’s end, even though he was not attempting to run and was actually gesturing to the dressing room for a new pair of batting gloves!
Prior had to go – such was the state of relations between the counties at the time there was never any question of Hampshire calling Prior back. He walked off gesturing angrily at the Hampshire fielders and Adams said afterwards that Hampshire should have withdrawn the appeal in the spirit of the game.
Once they realised what happened the mood of the normally sedate Arundel crowd changed too as they got behind Sussex. They were as thrilled when Sussex won by four wickets with five balls to spare.
The first ever T20 game in this country was between Hampshire and Sussex and a year later at Hove, Dimitri Mascarenhas took a hat-trick as the Sharks were rattled out for just 63. And in 2007 Dwayne Smith marked his debut for Sussex by taking the Hampshire attack for 98 as Sussex reached the quarter-finals for the first time.
Whatever happens on Friday night, if past meetings between these two are a guide it will be lively!