Sussex Sharks struggling in Vitality Blast - Hampshire and Glamorgan inflict back-to-back defeats

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Sussex Sharks have it all to do in the T20 south group after defeats to Hampshire and Glamorgan within the space of 24 hours left them with only one win from their opening five games.

At the Ageas Bowl on Saturday night, Ben McDermott proved Hampshire Hawks are more than just James Vince with a dominant 69 as the Hawks drowned Sussex Sharks in El Clasicoast by 10 wickets.

Australian McDermott had started his Vitality Blast campaign with three, 39, 18, and one while opening partner Vince had 280 runs in four innings and had broken the all-time tournament run-scoring record. But unshackled with six fours and three sixes in a new record first wicket run stand with Vince – with the Hawks skipper collecting his fourth fifty-plus score of this year’s Blast as he smashed 71 off 39 to overtake Wayne Madsen as the highest scorer so far this season.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Vince and McDermott were only chasing 144 after an impeccable bowling display which included two for 18 for Liam Dawson and two for 25 for Scott Currie. It gave defending champions Hampshire back-to-back thrashings and three wins from five matches, while Sussex have lost three of four outings.

Sharks skipper  Ravi Bopara | Picture: GettySharks skipper  Ravi Bopara | Picture: Getty
Sharks skipper Ravi Bopara | Picture: Getty

An accident on the nearby M27 left a number of empty seats at the Ageas Bowl, not least Sharks skipper Ravi Bopara’s in the away dressing room. He passed on the captaincy to former Hawk Tom Alsop as he sat in traffic. His absence left a senior hole in the Sussex batting which Hampshire ruthlessly exposed as they slumped to 66 for six, and in danger of a mauling.

Tom Clark had stroked the ball around nicely with six boundaries included in his 36 before he was squared up by the impressive Currie – who later bowled Harry Crocombe in his two for 25 – with Tom Haines, Alsop, Dan Ibrahim, Shadab Khan and Michael Burgess all falling in the first half of the innings.

Along with strong Hawks bowling there were a quartet of calamitous dismissals across the innings, three run outs plus a stumping off McDermott’s genitals.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sussex escaped their collapse thanks firstly to a 27-run stand between James Coles (19) and George Garton (18) and then Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s 31 off 16 balls – which included clearing the ropes off Chris Wood and Currie. But Sussex were eventually bowled out with seven balls unused for an under-par 144.

Vince and McDermott put on a then-club-record 124 for the opening partnership in this fixture last season. That was broken a few days later when they slammed 134 against Middlesex, but was smashed for a third time in barely a year by chalking off the 144.

They only scored one run in the first two overs of their reply, including Garton maiden, before James Vince and Ben McDermott both got lucky with outside edges avoiding hands.

But McDermott opened up with a towering six down the ground off Garton and then ramped the next ball over the ropes. The pair’s first fifty stand of the season came off the last ball of the powerplay.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

McDermott continued his assault and reached his half-century in 34 balls, with Vince quickly following him in 24 balls.

Sussex Sharks head coach Paul Farbrace said: “We are very disappointed. We have just had a very good conversation in changing room about the performance today. The one thing I can’t complain about is effort or commitment and we have a lot of people in our team who haven’t played many games.

“There is a lot of inexperience and it is showing. It is showing in our shot selection and reading of the game. We had glimpses of good cricket and then we had some unbelievably dozy cricket.

“I said after our defeat to Essex that if we keep batting the way we bat then we will lose a lot of games. Unfortunately we have taken some of Thursday’s performance into tonight’s performance and that is we have only got 144 on a very good pitch.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Tonight wasn’t about being angry or upset with the players but it is frustrating and shows we still have a lot of work to do.

“We had an education tonight from the best T20 team in county cricket. They taught us a lesson in so many ways. Their professionalism, the way they set their fields, the way they threw the ball in, ran between the wickets, struck boundaries and attacked out bowlers. For the ones who are sharp enough in our team will learn from what they saw tonight.”

At Hove on Sunday afternoon, Glamorgan made it four wins out of five in their Vitality Blast campaign when they beat the Sussex Sharks by 32 runs at the 1st Central County Ground.

The Sharks, though, are moving in the opposite direction. This was their third straight defeat, and their fourth in five games, and they now have a mountain to climb if they are to progress in the competition. In their most recent defeats it was their batting that let them down, but here it was their bowling.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chasing a huge victory target of 220, they never looked in the chase despite a plucky charge from Tom Alsop, who scored 58 from 41 deliveries. Tom Clark, pulling across the line, was bowled by Jamie McIlroy in the third over and in the next fellow opener Tom Haines departed, unluckily run out through a deflected straight drive by Alsop.

Sussex needed something special from Ravi Bopara, but their skipper departed in sloppy circumstances, lifting a full toss from Kiran Carlson to long-on for just ten. And two overs later Shadab Khan was caught at cow corner, just below the dressing rooms, for three.

The situation was hopeless. But no-one told Alsop. And for a short period, while he found a reliable partner in Michael Burgess, the near-impossible looked on. With ten overs to go Sussex needed 148. Then, from the last five, they needed 90, at an improbable rate of 18 runs an over. But then Alsop was yorked by Dan Douthwaite to make it 133-5 in the 16th over and even the most diehard Sharks supporters gave up hope, not even encouraged by some poor catching by the Glamorgan fielders. At least some late hitting by Nathan McAndrew, who struck four sixes in an unbeaten 28, entertained those spectators who remained from a large crowd.

Glamorgan had made the most of a flat pitch, a fast outfield and some wayward bowling and fielding from the Sharks to pile up 219-5, with Colin Ingram (48 off 32 balls) and Chris Cooke (50 off 28) the stars of the show. There were 23 extras in the innings, including eight no-balls and nine wides.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They got off to a flyer, scoring 71-1 in the powerplay. There were also two dropped catches in that opening passage of play, to add to the fielding side’s frustrations, including a sitter by James Coles.

Glamorgan did lose the dangerous looking Eddie Byron early on, the batsman, injuring himself in the course of a 10-ball 17, and had to be helped off the field. But captain Carlson maintained the impetus of the innings with two sixes and three fours in a 16-ball 26 before he skied Henry Crocombe to the wicketkeeper Burgess.

Sam Northeast, quiet in the opening overs, picked up his pace and raised the hundred from the final delivery of the 10th over when he clouted Shadab over square-leg for six. The Sharks dismissed Northeast at 106 in the 11th over when the batsman drove Crocombe to short extra-cover where Bopara took an excellent low catch.

But because of their poor start the Sharks had difficulty stemming the flow of runs as Ingram and Cooke plundered their bowling. Shadab, bowling the 14th over, went for 18 runs and then the next over, bowled by McAndrew, went for 19 runs as Cooke raised the 150 with a marvellous stroke, carving McAndrew over extra-cover for six. Tymal Mills, Crocombe and Bopara had reasonable bowling figures but the other three, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, McAndrew and Shadab were very expensive.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bopara said: “I thought we were very poor with the ball. Obviously that’s where we lost the game. We bowled about 12 or 13 extra balls. And the runs that were scored off those balls … that’s when the score gets up to 200, 220. To chase that down was always going to be hard work. That’s where we lost it.

“It’s frustrating to be without certain players. For a couple of years now we’ve picked up injuries to important players. We had high hopes for Ali Orr in the blast this year. That’s been a massive blow for us and we haven’t really replaced him as an opener. In this format you need quality openers. They’re generally the guys who win you games.

“The guys are still learning. And learning quickly is important. The boys are young. But they will get there. It’s important we stick together. I remember at Essex we won only one game out of six or seven and we went on to win the tournament. We’ve got to win half our games, or maybe one more than half..”