Gloucestershire’s visit to The BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground for Friday’s NatWest T20 Blast game will inevitably stir memories of their last visit to Hove just two years ago.
Not that they will be particularly happy recollections for the Gloucestershire bowlers who are returning to the scene of one of the most spectacular batting displays ever seen in the history of T20.
New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris scored the third-fastest hundred in T20 history that night, off just 37 balls with nine sixes and five fours, as the Sharks stormed to victory by 38 runs and booked their place in Finals Day for the third time.
It was some effort by the burly Styris, who only came in during the 12th over after Sussex, who were 2 for 3 at one stage, had recovered to 101 for 3.
The person with the best view in the house was Murray Goodwin, watching from the other end and content to give Styris as much of the strike as he could and enjoy the pyrotechnics along with a full house crowd.
“I have never seen clean ball-striking like it,” said Goodwin. “The boundaries at Hove aren’t the biggest as we know but some of his sixes would have cleared much bigger grounds. It was great to watch.”
Even though it was less than two years ago, there are likely to be just six survivors in the Gloucestershire team on duty on Friday, which is perhaps just as well because bowlers James Fuller, Liam Norwell and Benny Howell might still be having nightmares.
Fuller was punished particularly harshly with his final over – the 18th of the innings –disappearing for 38 with three sixes and three fours, plus a couple of no balls.
Styris was on 85 when Norwell began the final over. “I didn't even realise I was close to the hundred until it was the last over, when I saw I was on 85,” remembers Styris, who is playing for Leicestershire – his fifth different county – in this season’s competition. “Only about then I thought I’d give it a bit of a dip to see if I can get there.”
Successive sixes took him to his second T20 hundred and Sussex to a total of 230 for 3. On a plumb batting pitch Gloucestershire were never in contention as Sussex closed out victory by 39 runs.
Having only lost once in the group stages, Sussex were favourites when Finals Day came around. But that was three weeks later and by then, according to Styris, they had lost momentum and ended up being beaten by Yorkshire in the semi-finals.
This year the knockouts begin a week after the group stages finish so no excuse on that front. All Sussex have to do is get there and a win tomorrow would certainly help.