So near - yet so far. Sussex were invited to the Vitality Blast party at Edgbaston, only to be asked to leave early.
For the second time in four years, the Sharks were one of the four T20 teams to make the white-ball showpiece of the English season. But as in 2018 they fell short – and it’s now 12 years since they won the T20.
For several seasons now, Sussex have been so strong in the south group. Time and again they finish in the top four to reach the quarter-finals, but the past four summers have now seen two last-eight defeats and two visits to Finals Day at Edgbaston which have resulted in a loss in the final, against Worcestershire in 2018, and now a semi-final loss to Kent Spitfires.
It was not a particularly one-sided game but you never really felt Sussex were firing on all cylinders.
Only in the middle of the Spitfires innings, when two wickets in successive balls by Tymal Mills reduced them to 94-5, could you see Luke Wright side’s getting on top.
But Kent recovered, posted 168, then managed to remove each of the Sharks dangermen either just as they were getting going, or before they’d even started.
George Garton again showed his all-rounder credentials with 2-24 in the Kent innings and a 23-ball knock of 41 that threatened to get Sussex close. But Garton apart, no-one in a light blue shirt really caught the eye – although Sid the Shark could be well pleased with second place in the mascot race.
Having put so many resources into their Blast campaign, everyone in the Sussex camp will be disappointed not to have got closer to glory than they did on the day.
They’ll give it another good go next year but will have to do so without two of their key men of recent years, Phil Salt and Chris Jordan, who now move on to Lancashire and Surrey respectively.
One wonders if things might have been different in front of the Edgbaston masses if one more of the senior players – a Rashid Khan, a Travis Head or an Ollie Robinson – had been available.
We’ll never know but Sussex can at least console themselve with the fact they were beaten by a very good Kent team, who went on to beat Somerset in the final. But it’s another season without silverware at Hove and that’s something the players will be desperate to put right in 2022.