Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sussex keep double hopes alive - just!

Sussex managed to overcome Kent in the T20 South 1 final in order to keep their County Championship and T20 double hopes alive, but it was a close run thing.

Having convincingly beaten both Essex and Middlesex on Day One, and with Kent having lost to Middlesex, Day Two started with Sussex in the box seat. But a defeat to Kent in the last of the group games meant that Sussex, Kent and Middlesex all finished with two wins and so the finalists were decided (eventually) on net run rate. Sussex and Kent made it through and Middlesex were the unlucky team to go out.

Sussex lost the toss and Kent put them into bat, as they had done in the morning game. Sussex had failed to defend 113 in the earlier game and therefore they will not have been happy with the 114/6 posted in the final, although Kent bowled and fielded very well. Opening bowlers Tash Farrant (2/18) and Alice Davidson Richards (1/24) kept things tight and took early wickets. Sussex had to recover from 5/2, including the key wicket of Sarah Taylor. It was left to Alexia Walker (52) and Arran Brindle (30) to bring Sussex up to a total which at least gave their bowlers a chance.

In reply Kent too lost the early wickets of Laura Marsh and Charlotte Edwards to Georgia Elwiss's bowling (2/15) to leave them on 12/2 and had it not been for a generous helping of 15 wides Kent would have struggled to maintain the required run rate. But slowly Tammy Beaumont (55) and Lydia Greenway (28) got to grips with the pitch and the Sussex bowling and seemed to be steering Kent to a comfortable victory. At 87/2 at the end of the 15th over they needed just 28 to win from five overs with eight wickets in hand. In the penultimate over they lost Beaumont to a Brindle run out, but still only needed five from the last over to win or four to tie and send the game into a Super Over.

Skipper Taylor entrusted 17 year old pace bowler Freya Davies with the ball for the last over. Greenway ran a leg bye off the first ball (four needed to win). New bat Deanna Cooper drove the second ball back at Davies who took a magnificent one-handed catch to not only remove her but for another precious dot ball. New bat Davidson-Richards got a single off the next ball to put Greenway back on strike with three needed from three balls. Greenway decided to go aerial from the fourth ball but only found the safe hands of Georgia Elwiss at deep mid-wicket. Suddenly Sussex were in with a shout. The batsmen had crossed and so Davidson-Richards found herself on strike. Davies managed to bypass her bat with the fifth ball of the over - another dot - and Kent needed three to win or two to tie off the last ball. The tension was palpable as Davies ran in to bowl the last ball. Once again her pace beat the flailing bat outside the off-stump and Sussex were home by two runs. Davies finished with 2/11 off her three death overs amid jubilant scenes from the Sussex girls.

Sussex's winning T20 team
Ironically it looks as though Kent will still have made it through to Finals Day on Saturday 14th September, as they are likely to qualify as the best runners-up from the top three divisions. No doubt they will be out for revenge if they do make it through. Sussex have the unenviable prospect of playing the T20 Final on the Saturday, followed by the County Championship Final against Yorkshire the following day. It will be a tough weekend for them, but they will hope they can perform to their true potential over both days and both formats.


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