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REPORT: Wright 66 drives Sharks to victory

15-Jul-2014

Luke Wright on his way to a half-century this evening at Hove

Luke Wright hit three sixes and seven fours as his swashbuckling 66 off 39 balls dented Glamorgan’s NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final hopes and powered Sussex Sharks to a five-wicket win at Hove.

Wright virtually settled the match, as Sussex chased down Glamorgan’s 151 for eight, by clubbing Jacques Rudolph’s leg spin for three fours and a six in a 13th over that cost 19 runs.

The England one-day all-rounder then fell to the first ball of the next over, with Dean Cosker taking a juggling catch at mid wicket from a pull against Andrew Salter’s off spin, but only another 36 runs were then required from 41 balls as Wright walked off to great acclaim from a near-5,000 crowd.

Matt Machan, with 33 not out from 35 balls, then eased Sussex home with nine balls to spare as they ended on 153 for five. Sussex’s fifth win of the group stage still keeps their mathematical chances of last eight qualification intact, while Glamorgan may live to regret their fourth defeat as they battle to get out of the fiercely-contested South Group.

Glamorgan, who would have gone second in the group table if they had won, were also undone by Will Beer’s leg spin as his brilliant four-over spell of three for 14 pegged them back when they looked to be on course for a challenging total.

Having won the toss, Glamorgan were given a superb start by Rudolph and skipper Jim Allenby, on form the best opening pair in the T20 Blast this season.

At the end of the six-over powerplay Glamorgan were 57 without loss, with Rudolph setting the tone by taking three fours from the opening over, bowled by left-arm seamer Lewis Hatchett.

With a minimum of effort, Rudolph caressed the first ball of the match to the extra cover boundary for four, and there were also classy fours through square cover and mid-wicket as 16 runs in all came from the over.

The third over, from Chris Liddle, cost 12 more and Allenby pulled the returning Hatchett out of the ground over mid-wicket for six – the ball clattering into the brickwork of one of the block of flats that line one side of the Hove ground.

Beer’s introduction, however, slowed Glamorgan’s progress and his first victim, in the seventh over, was Allenby. Bowled for 24, inside-edging an attempted slog-sweep, he has now scored 474 runs from ten innings in this year’s T20 competition, at an average of 52.66.

Mark Wallace was Beer’s next scalp, bowled for 3 as he missed an ambitious reverse sweep, and the 25-year-old leg spinner then tossed one up a little bit higher to have Stewart Walters smartly caught and bowled for a duck when the batsman could not keep down a straight drive.

By then the big-hitting Chris Cooke was also back in the pavilion, holing out to Craig Cachopa at deep square leg as he mishit a pull at Steffan Piolet’s medium pace.

At 79 for four, in the 11th over, Glamorgan’s innings was in danger of spluttering out like a damp firework, but after Beer’s excellent spell a fifth wicket stand of 50 in 28 balls between Rudolph and Murray Goodwin revived it.

Goodwin, in his 41st year and playing against the county he left in 2012 after twelve seasons, was given a good reception by the crowd and reached 35 from 24 balls as he pulled a Piolet full toss for six and also plundered successive fours from Chris Nash’s off spin.

After Goodwin fell to the last ball of the 17th over, mis-cueing to long on, Rudolph was bowled by Steve Magoffin for 62 off a thin inside edge in the following over.

Magoffin, the 34-year-old Australian seamer, was making his T20 debut for Sussex in his third season with the club and it was only the ninth short-form game of his career. Indeed, the last time the country’s current leading LV= County Championship wicket-taker played a Twenty20 match was five-and-a-half years ago.

Sussex lost Nash and Luke Wells early but Cachopa, a 24-year-old trialist, hit a six and three fours to impress in a quickfire 24, before being stumped advancing at Dean Cosker’s left-arm spin, while Wright was always in command.

Nash, the Sussex captain, said: “It was nice to be able to win our last group home game. Our crowds have been brilliant all season for Twenty20, even though we haven’t performed as well as we would have liked overall. I was also glad Will Beer was in at the end and hit the winning boundary. He has been exceptional with both ball and bat in this competition, and he deserved that moment of getting us over the line here.”

Glamorgan skipper Allenby added: “I always thought our total was on the low side. Around 160 would have been par, but Will Beer bowled exceptionally well to peg us back and full credit to him for that. We are still in contention to finish in the top four in the group, however, and I’m happy with that with two games still to go.”

WATCH: Luke Wright spoke to BBC Sussex after his 66 from 39 balls at The BrightonandHoveJobs.com County Ground this evening. Follow the link above to visit the Sussex TV YouTube Channel.

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