Sussex vs Surrey – T20

Thursday 23rd June 2022 – The Vitality T20 Blast – The County Ground, Hove

Another day, another few missing players. That’s been the recurring backstory of Surrey’s unbeaten start to the season as they headed down to the seaside to face Sussex at Hove.

Cricket at the County Ground in Sussex always seems to take place at a slower pace, even in the T20 Blast. Sussex still had ambitions, albeit rapidly diminishing ones, of a quarter final spot for the second year in a row, but knew that nothing but a win over Surrey would suffice.

There was an outside chance that Jason Roy and Reece Topley may make a return to the Surrey side, having completed their tour of duty in Amsterdam for England’s 50 over side, but if they suffered anything like the delays we saw trying to get through Schiphol Airport, it may be a few more days before they could be seen at the crease.

The County Ground is one of the more basic host venues in the county game. It is probably the most prominent one where you are willing to trade location, within five minutes of the beach, for facilities inside. The new South-West corner stand abuts the old Pavilion, but apart from that, there are two temporary stands at one end, and the hospitality marquees in “cow corner”. In fact, the best views of the ground almost certainly come from the residential properties on the Palmeira Avenue, where the occupants were enjoying the sunshine as the visitors won the toss and put Sussex into bat.

The crowd was on the light side, quite disappointing considering the beautiful evening and the relatively low-cost ticket prices (OK, so £25 may not be considered to be cheap by many but compared to the £40+ ticket prices at The Oval and Lords it most certainly is) and with just one more game to be hosted at The County Ground fans will be starved of evening cricket action until the Royal London Cup starts in August.

The hosts started well, scoring freely but without ever really showing the dynamic batting they promised. When Mohammed Rizwan fell in the 10th over with the score on 92-3 there had only been 8 fours and 2 sixes. Surrey never really found their bowling rhythm, missing the likes of Jamie Overton and Sam Curran, with skipper Jordan giving seven different players a bowl, although the former Sussex player ended up with the worst figures, conceding 46 in his four overs, mainly due to Rawlins and Garton adding 60 in less than 5 overs, with the former scoring 30 from just six balls in his unbeaten 34, as Sussex finished their innings on a respectable 172-5.

Such totals have been meat and drink to Surrey this season to chase and once again it was Will Jacks who shouldered the responsibility for the run chase. Jamie Smith fell in the fifth over, with the score on 55 but had only added 14 himself, with Jacks on a mission. Reifer couldn’t repeat his heroics from Tuesday night, lasting on two balls, whilst Laurie Evans added 26 in a 57 run partnership for the 3rd wicket.

Despite keep on top of the run rate, Surrey simply ran out of support for Jacks. Nobody after Evans managed to get into double figures, and when he finally fell for 76 in the 15th over, Surrey still needed 33 from 31 balls. Not just possible, but probable for this Surrey side but skipper Jordan followed next ball, run out and two more wickets fell within seven balls. From 139-5 the visitors found themselves at 147-9 just 8 balls later. A second ball four from Dan Moriarty provided some hope but he was run out four balls later to give the hosts a 17 run win.

In the grand scheme of things the result meant more to Sussex than Surrey, especially with so many first choice players missing. but it was disappointing to see so many empty seats considering how many fans missed out on the competition last season due to Covid. Certainly one for the club to think about how they engage with the local community more next season.

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