Another Hove defeat sums up why Sussex missed out on T20 Blast knockout stages

Sussex Sharks hopes of squeezing into the knockout stages of the Vitality Blast ended with a disappointing five-wicket defeat against Gloucestershire at Hove.
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Their 160 for nine never looked enough despite a sluggish pitch and Gloucestershire, who were already out of the reckoning for the quarter finals eased to victory with 19 balls to spare, Ben Charlesworth top-scoring with 34 as he became their first batter to pass 300 runs in this season’s competition.

Sussex were left to regret that they only won one of their seven games at the 1st Central County Ground.

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Michael Burgess, who top scored with 64, said, "We have been really competitive in the last six or seven games and went into this with a sniff of qualifying, so we're really gutted. Our 160 on that pitch could have been defended so we're disappointed because we'd have liked to have made a few teams sweat in their last games.

Success at Hove proved too little for Sussex Sharks in this year's Vitality Blast (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)Success at Hove proved too little for Sussex Sharks in this year's Vitality Blast (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Success at Hove proved too little for Sussex Sharks in this year's Vitality Blast (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

"In the last few games a lot of people have found the confidence to let go and free themselves up. Before we were putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform, me included. The last seven games have been amazing and I think it gives us a lot to build on going into next year's Blast, especially with the experience our younger guys will have got in this tournament."

Gloucestershire always seemed to have the game under control after they reduced Sussex to 52 for four in the seventh over. Ajeet Dale picked up two wickets in the powerplay including Sharks’ skipper Ravi Bopara, who had made 108 in the win against Kent on Friday.

This time he got a leading edge and Charlesworth took a great catch running in from mid-wicket and when Shadab Khan gave a return catch to Tom Smith in the next over, Gloucestershire were in control.

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Smith should have had Michael Burgess caught on 21 but Grant Roelofsen dropped a straightforward catch in the covers. It was to prove a costly miss as Burgess and Harrison Ward added 64 from 47 balls with Ward reaching his second T20 fifty, the other having come in Sussex’s win in Bristol last week.

The Sharks accelerated with 46 scored between the 13th and 16th over but when Ward dragged a ball from outside off stump and was caught at long on Gloucestershire squeezed again, taking four wickets for just ten runs with left-arm spinner Graeme van Buuren picking up Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Nathan McAndrew in an outstanding spell of 4-0-13-2 during which he didn’t concede a boundary.

Burgess reached the second T20 fifty of his career in a handy final over when 18 were taken off Josh Shaw with Burgess hitting the last two balls for six as he finished on 64 from 51 deliveries, but it didn’t look to be enough.

Gloucestershire’s reply was given a terrific start by South African Roelofsen, who hit 30 off 14 balls before becoming the first of two wickets in three balls for McAndrew, who then pinned Ben Wells in front, in the fifth over.

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Bopara had to go off taking a blow to the right hand stopping a straight drive from Charlesworth in the ninth over and although his replacement Hudson-Prentice bowled Charlesworth (34) to keep Sussex in the contest, Gloucestershire were always ahead of the run rate.

Sussex used eight bowlers and Shadab Khan’s googly was too good for van Buuren in the 15th over, but James Bracey and Jack Taylor chased down the target with the minimum of fuss and a disappointing campaign for Sussex was summed up when the winning runs came from four wides. Gloucestershire could still have a say in the battle for the top four when they conclude their campaign against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday.