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Sussex fall short as Essex hold up their Vitality Blast top four hopes

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Essex inflicted Sussex’s first home Vitality Blast defeat of 2019 to frustrate them in their bid to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Will Beer and Reece Topley took two wickets apiece but a stand of 82 between Dan Lawrence and Rave Bopara carried Essex to 168-5 – 10 or 15 more than they looked like getting at one stage.

Will Beer and Jason Behrendorff are joined by team-mates after combining to claim the wicket of Tom Westley / Picture: Getty Images

Will Beer and Jason Behrendorff are joined by team-mates after combining to claim the wicket of Tom Westley / Picture: Getty Images

In the Sussex reply, the early loss of Phil Salt, Luke Wright and Alex Carey was forgotten as David Wiese counter-attacked but the innings faded after he was out for a 36-ball 66. Mohammad Amir did much of the damage with 4-29 as the Eagles triumphed by nine runs.

The result leaves Sussex still needing at least one more win – possibly two – from their final three games to make sure of a top four place and a quarter final spot but they are still top – though their rivals are close on their heels.

Wright won the toss on a warm and sunny evening in front of another sellout 6,000 Hove crowd and asked Essex to bat first. Essex skipper Simon Harmer said he’d have batted first had he won it.

Sussex were without several big names – Jofra Archer was with England for the Ashes, and was doing very nicely too with six Australian wickets in the day; Tymal Mills had picked up a back injury and Rashid Khan had ended his latest Sussex spell.

But the other side of the coin was the man brought into the bowling attack to replace Khan – Australian seamer Jason Behrendorff, recruited earlier in the week for the final four group games and, if Sussex get through, the quarter-final.

Behrendorff was asked by Wright to bowl the first over, from the Sea End, and the first ball was dispatched for four through the offside by Tom Westley. The rest of the over was very tidy as he found his line and length and only one more Westley run came off it.

Topley’s first delivery of the second over got the same treatment from Westley as Behrendorff’s first ball, before Cameron Delport got off the mark with a nice pull around the corner. Delport the Eagles’ leading run scorer going into the game, didn’t last long, though, miscuing a pull off Topley in the fourth over to be caught by Phil Salt for nine.

Adam Wheater announced his arrival with a lovely cut for four off Chris Jordan, then Behrendorff was switched to the Cromwell Road to bowl down the slope. It suited him and towards the end of a tight over he ran out keeper Wheater for six with a smart bit of work.

The 50 came up for the Eagles in the seventh over with Lawrence joining Westley at the crease, but the introduction of spin in the form of Will Beer soon brought about the end of Westley, caught by that man Behrendorff for a useful 34 off 25 balls.

Now it was a rebuilding job for Essex by Lawrence and Ryan ten Doeschate against Beer and fellow spin twin Danny Briggs and they didn’t find it easy getting the ball away – until Lawrence hit Briggs for two successive sixes, one straight down the ground, the other over Jordan at long on.

Soon, though, ten Doeschate became Beer’s second victim, holing out to Salt for nine. Lawrence and Bopara found Sussex’s bowlers and fielders in mean mood although one over-keen throw to Beer at the bowler’s end resulted in an extra run which brought up their 100 but did little to spoil the veteran’s figures of 2-19 from his four overs.

Lawrence decided it was time to attack and Wiese was on the receiving end, seeing each of the first two balls of his second spell go back over his head for six.Lawrence’s 50 arrived off 29 balls, featuring two fours and four sixes as Behrendorff’s final over proved rather wayward giving him final figures of 0-34.

Lawrence and Bopara’s 50 partnership was completed in five overs and suddenly Sussex were not as in control of proceedings as they had been.

Topley and Jordan bowled well enough in the final few overs but both batsmen were fortunate to see a couple of edges fly away for fours through the unguarded slip area. The pair continued to swing the bat but Bopara was brilliantly caught at long-on by Jordan off Topley (2-32) for a 24-ball 45. Essex ended on 168 for 5.

The reply began badly for the Sharks when Salt was caught for six by skipper Harmer in the first over, giving Amir an early success. With a run rate of 8.5 an over to go for, Sussex could not afford too many slip-ups too soon.

Wright and Laurie Evans calmed nerves with an early four each before two overs were up but Wright soon succumbed, hooking an Amir delivery high into the night sky for Paul Walter to come in from deep mid-wicket and take the catch.

Things looked even more bleak when Carey suffered the same fate as the openers before him and saw Bopara pouch an awkward catch, the Australian departing for three.

Evans and No5 Wiese relieved some of the pressure with some fine hitting – the South African putting Walter away for four successive fours in a superb bit of counter-attacking in the fifth over. Despite the early setbacks the Sussex 50 came up a ball before the end of the six-over powerplay and Wiese’s clean hitting took him past 2,000 T20 runs in his career.

Evans and Wiese continued to pick the right balls to hit, keeping the scoreboard ticking steadily with a mixture of singles and well-placed boundaries. At the halfway stage Sussex were 86-3, needing 83 to win.

The partnership was broken when it was worth 65 as Evans was caught by Harmer at mid-off off Walter, a good comeback by the bowler after that expensive first over. That brought in Harry Finch for his first Blast innings of 2019 but his unfortunate run of ducks continued when he was lbw to Harmer trying a reverse sweep.

Jordan was in at seven and had a watchful start before a pull for four brought up the Sharks 100. Soon another landmark arrived as Wiese reached 50 off 26 balls with his eighth four.

The pair were keeping the run rate around eight or nine an over with quick running between the wickets, though some sharp Essex fielding was restricting the number of boundaries.

Wiese led the charge with 17 coming from the 15th over, bowled by Beard, but he fell for lbw 66 to Harmer in the next – swinging the pendulum back in Essex’s favour..

Jordan and Beer had plenty to do but successive fours by Jordan off Amir in the 17th lifted Sussex hopes once more – even if they were followed by two dot balls, one of which nearly had Jordan playing on.

Harmer’s fine catch down low in the covers off the bowling of Adam Zampa accounted for Beer and when Jordan holed out to Bopara off Amir for 19 it was pretty much game over. Behrendorff was Amir’s next victim as Sussex ran out of time and batters and Topley and Briggs were never likely to get anywhere need the 20-odd needed off the final over by Beard.

Next up for Sussex is a visit to Uxbridge on Saturday.

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Sussex and Horsham hotshot top scores for England U19s in defeat

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Sussex and Horsham starlet Tom Clark top scored for England U19s but couldn’t prevent them losing to West Indies U19s in their opening game of Group B in the 2020 ICC U19 World Cup.

The West Indies secured a 71-run win in Kimberley, South Africa by the Duckworth-Lewis method to top the group after taking two wins from two.

The Caribbean outfit, who were put in by England after winning the toss, scored 267-7 off their allotted 50 overs.

Clark top scored with 38 for the young Lions as they scored 184-9 in a rain affected 43.4 overs.

Kevlon Anderson (86 not out) and Nyeem Young (66 off 41 balls) did the damage for the West Indies in the first innings.

The duo put on 101-runs for the sixth wicket to help them to a sizeable final total.

Clark showed his effectiveness in the field by taking the catch of Kirk McKenzie (12) off the bowling of Lewis Goldsworthy (2-28) at 100-3.

England’s reply saw openers Jordan Cox (20) and Ben Charlesworth (36) combine for a 53-run partnership.

The loss of Cox brought Clark to the crease and the youngster began to push England on.

READ MORE Bangladesh T20 title for Bopara – Jordan struggles – Salt stars for Adelaide | Comeback kings Horsham record fifth successive win | Steyning Town stall Peacehaven’s promotion push with victory
The left-hander and Jack Haynes (27), batting at four, struck 51 for the third-wicket before Clark was taken lbw by Ashmead Nedd (2-35) at 120-3.

Clark’s innings of 38 off 53 balls consisted of four boundaries and a maximum.

The loss of the Haywards Heath-born batsman sparked an England collapse.

England lurched from 120-3 to 131-5 before rain stopped play in the 33rd over .

Play eventually resumed but the young Lions stuttered to 151-8 off 38 overs.

Kasey Aldridge’s cameo of 21 off 20 balls helped England to 174 before he was taken with seven overs to go.

Blake Cullen (seven not out) and Hamidullah Qadri (four not out) looked to be England’s unlikely saviours but the rain came and washed away the young Lions’ chances of victory.

England take on second-placed Australia on Thursday before concluding the group phase against third-placed Nigeria two days later.

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Bangladesh T20 title for Bopara – Jordan struggles – Salt stars for Adelaide

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Ravi Bopara’s Bangladesh Premier League campaign with Rajshahi Royals ended in triumph when they won the tournament..

The Royals lost their first qualifier to Khulna Tigers by 27 runs with Bopara – who has joined Sussex for 2020 – taking 1-24 and making just one run.

Bopara was left out for the next qualifier versus Chattogram Challengers despite his excellent form throughout the tournamentt. The Royals won by two wickets.

The all-rounder was yet again missing in the Royals XI for the final versus Khulna Tigers, which the Royals won by 21 runs as Bopara won his third BPL title.

In Australia, it was another mixed week for Chris Jordan’s Perth Scorchers. They started the week with a thumping 77-run win over Hobart Hurricanes, Jordan making one run and taking figures of 1-16.

However, they were then beaten twice within the space of three days by table-topping Melbourne Stars, the first game seeing the Scorchers bowled out for just 86 and losing by eight wickets, Jordan making just one run and going wicketless. The second game was a closer affair but still a defeat for the Scorchers, losing by 10 runs with Jordan making two runs and going wicketless again.

It was a better week for Phil Salt, Rashid Khan and Travis Head with the Adelaide Strikers.

It didn’t start well with a seven-wicket defeat to Brisbane Heat as they were bowled out for just 110, Rashid top-scoring with 28 as well as taking figures of 1-30 and Head (8) and Salt (7) making single-digit scores. However, they bounced back in style as they thrashed the Heat in the reverse fixture three days, beating them by 10 wickets.

Rashid (1-15) and Head (1-4) chipped in with the ball before Salt became star of the show as he smashed 67 off just 38 balls to help chase down the 101-run target.

The Strikers finished their week on a high with a 10-run win over Hobart Hurricanes, Salt (13) and Rashid (0-40) offered little but Head was to star this time as his 79 off 40 balls earned him man of the match.

Meanwhile, Danni Wyatt, Georgia Elwiss and Freya Davies all received some big news this week as they were called up to England’s T20 World Cup squad.

It’s will be the third time Wyatt has featured at a T20 World Cup having previously played in the 2016 and 2018 additions of the tournament. Furthermore, it will be a second appearance for Elwiss at a World Cup and a debut World Cup appearance for Davies.

The tournament will start in Australia on February 21 with the final on March 8, with England drawn in a group with South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and Thailand.

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England fixtures cement The 1st Central County Ground’s position as home of women’s cricket

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The 1st Central County Ground, Hove has further cemented its position as the home of women’s cricket in England and Wales after being chosen to host two England internationals this summer.

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