By Sam Watts at the PROBIZ County Ground, Hove
Sussex Sharks made a mockery of their opponents as a ruthless bowling display from Ollie Rayner (5-18) blew the Somerset Sabres batting order apart in a crushing Friends Life t20 victory at the PROBIZ County Ground.
In a rematch of the 2009 final of the same competition, Sussex were without captain Michael Yardy after he announced a further short spell away from the game to aid his ongoing recovery from depression.
Stand-in Sharks skipper Murray Goodwin won the toss and elected to bowl at a fearsome looking Sabres top order – a decision that yielded vindication for the Zimbabwean as the visitors were all out for just 90.
Somerset looked threatening early on with Marcus Trescothick (33) thudding two emphatic sixes, but Craig Kieswetter’s (3) fourth over dismissal proved a major set back for the visitors when he sliced to Rana Naved at fine leg.
Sussex further nullified the threat of their opponents batting line up just two balls later, with new man Peter Trego (0) clipping through to wicketkeeper Andy Hodd off the bowling of Chris Liddle.
Visiting skipper Trescothick looked set to revive Somerset as he pulped another delivery for six over extra cover, but he fell victim to his own aggression when Luke Wright removed him brilliantly with a juggled catch at the boundary.
The Sabres must have felt a sense of déjà vu as James Hildreth (0) edged behind to Hodd, with Rayner beginning to take centre stage as Somerset’s hopes of posting a competitive total rapidly faded with the Hove sunset.
Roelof van der Merwe posted 14 but became Rayner’s third victim of the evening, lofting out to a waiting Chris Nash at deep square leg.
Another quick-fire double salvo followed in the tenth over, with Arul Sappiah (0) stumped by Hodd and Jos Buttler (4) having his wicket taken by the precision bowling of Rayner.
A wicket from Wright sandwiched between two from Naved mopped up the tail end, allowing the Sharks a clear shot at victory with just 91 needed to win.
Somerset looked determined to give their hosts a taste of their own medicine with Nash (4) being removed in the first over, caught by Buttler off the bowling of Gemaal Hussain.
Wright (16) responded immediately in the next over with a pair of superb fours, sweetly crashing the second of the two across the rope at covers with aplomb.
Joe Gatting’s spell at the crease was limited to just two runs by Steve Kirby, holing the delivery out to Trescothick, and Sussex were rocking when Wright was taken behind by Kieswetter, leaving his side at 23-3.
The three dismissals came within the first five overs and brought Lou Vincent (16) and the diminutive Goodwin who struck a confident looking partnership and built quietly by pinching singles from the thrifty Somerset bowlers.
Goodwin’s experience shone through as he broke the pattern of singles by crashing a four to long off, and his partner followed suit with a superbly executed reverse sweep across extra cover to push Sussex to 52-3 after 10 overs.
Vincent was left frustrated with himself however, as the adrenaline of a tightening run chase saw him pack a van der Merwe delivery into the palms of Buttler.
New man Hodd (10) chipped in with a handy boundary to deep fine leg before being caught at gully by an ailing van der Merwe.
The influential Goodwin (27) fell after a forthright appeal from Kieswetter, but it only served to bring in Rayner (4) to polish off a magnificent shift by taking Sussex over the victory threshold with a four over cover off his second ball.