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REPORT: Sussex win not enough


A 55-run win over Essex Eagles at Hove on Friday evening was not enough to see Sussex Sharks through to the knock-out stages of the NatWest T20 Blast.

By posting 172 in their innings and then blowing Essex away for just 117, the Sharks did everything that was asked of them on the night, but events elsewhere conspired against them. 

Somerset’s thrashing of a meek Hampshire at Southampton prompted a dramatic increase in their net run rate that secured them the final place in the quarter-finals instead of Sussex, despite both sides finishing on 14 points.

After losing the toss and being put into bat, Chris Nash and Luke Wright got the Sharks off to a dream start. 

The pair put on 84 for the first wicket in 8.5 overs before Wright was dismissed for 37 off 23 balls in an innings containing three sixes and two fours. 

This was Wright back at his destructive best as he belted Essex’s seamers all around The 1st Central County Ground. 

It was a satisfying way for the T20 superstar to finish a Blast campaign that had started so brilliantly with a century and a fifty in the opening two games but had stuttered thereafter. 

At the other end, Nash continued his outstanding run of scores as he made his sixth fifty in eight innings.

After Wright was dismissed, Stiaan van Zyl and Ben Brown briefly joined Nash in the middle but soon departed to leave Sussex on 93-4 off 11 overs.

Any doubt as to the direction the second half of the innings would take soon disappeared as Laurie Evans and Nash put on 68 for the fourth wicket.

Following his match-winning knock last week against Gloucestershire, Evans played another well-paced innings.

He and Nash milked the slower bowlers and ran hard before targeting the boundary once more in the final overs. 

Once set, Evans treated a near-capacity crowd to a fabulous display of clean hitting. He finished on 47 not out off 34 balls, with three fours and two sixes. 

Nash fell in the penultimate over for 73 off 55 balls, an innings that took him to 520 runs in the tournament and made this the highest scoring T20 campaign of his career.

Knowing that they needed to win by as big a margin as possible, Sussex’s bowlers blew away the Essex top order to leave the visitors 49-5 after 7.1 overs. 

Danny Briggs had Varun Chopra caught by George Garton at deep midwicket in the first over, before David Wiese got rid of both Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara in the fourth over.

Chris Jordan then did for James Foster with a nasty bouncer that took the Essex ‘keeper’s glove and flew to Ben Brown behind the stumps. 

Will Beer took the fifth wicket – that of former Shark, Ashar Zaidi – with the first ball of his second over.

Whilst his teammates came and went, Ryan ten Doeschate offered some resistance in making 27 at number 3, but he became Beer’s second victim when he was out with the score on 64. 

Danny Briggs bowled Callum Taylor in the next over and ultimately finished with the remarkable figures of 2-12 from his allocation.

Then came a thirty-run partnership between Paul Walter and Simon Harmer that would prove fatal for Sussex. 

Beer eventually ended the stand when Walter was caught by van Zyl, before Jofra Archer and Jordan cleaned up the rest of the Essex tail, but by now it was too late.

Sussex’s celebrations out in the middle were cut brutally short by the news that their win would not be enough to book them a quarter-final berth.

Speaking after the match, a disappointed but realistic Ben Brown said: “We feel pretty deflated.  We did all we could tonight and we will look back on other evenings for the reasons why we didn’t qualify.
“We had a couple of games we should really have won.  We had a tight game against Kent here.  And we lost to Middlesex at Lord’s at the death.

“We also had a lot of rain in the competition but we had the chance to qualify in our own hands and we didn’t take it.”

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