Shocking Sussex batting means they miss Blast finals day
A woeful batting collapse saw Sussex Sharks bowled out for just 95 as they lost to Lancashire Lightning by 45 runs to be eliminated from the T20 Blast at the quarter-final stage for the second consecutive year.
Sussex had done superbly with the ball to restrict the visitors to 138/8 with George Garton the pick of the bowlers with 3-27 but in reply collapsed to 95 all out, their sixth-lowest total ever in T20 cricket with Luke Wright and Tymal Mills the only two batsmen to reach double figures.
Sussex began their quarter-final by winning the toss and sticking Lancashire into bat with the Sharks restricting the visitors in the opening three overs to just 14/0.
Liam Livingstone relieved some pressure by depositing Ollie Robinson for six at the start of the third over but was dismissed the following ball, the explosive opener attempting to recreate the same shot but instead was bowled by Robinson for 16.
Sussex continued their fine start with the ball the following over when Keaton Jennings was dismissed for just five after the former-Durham man skied a shot off Garton and was caught by David Wiese.
Alex Davies and Steven Croft made sure Lancashire got through the rest of the powerplay unscathed, but it had still been an excellent start from Sussex, restricting the Lightning to 34/2.
The Sharks continued to keep it tight through Danny Briggs and Delray Rawlins and were rewarded for the shrewd bowling when the latter got the big the wicket of Davies for 16 when the Lancashire keeper attempted to sweep the Bermudian but was caught by an excellent diving catch by Wiese.
Dane Vilas and Croft offered some counter-attacking resistance in a 43-run partnership, the latter looking imperious as he struck five boundaries including three sixes in the space of eight balls.
Croft, the only player across both teams that played in the last T20 clash between the two sides in 2011 which saw Lancashire win by 20 runs, struck the last of his sixes off Garton before the left-armer dismissed the Lancashire captain the following ball for 41, having him caught on the boundary by Robinson.
Sussex began to dominate with the ball again as Robinson picked up the Sharks fifth wicket two overs later when he trapped Rob Jones leg-before for nine before Tymal Mills had Danny Lamb caught by Calum MacLeod for three and had Luke Wood dismissed leg-before for a golden duck in the same over to leave Lancashire in trouble at 121/7.
Among the carnage, Vilas had been building a handy innings and looked to be taking the visitors to a competitive total after he struck two boundaries off the penultimate over bowled by Robinson.
However, Vilas was unable to see out the innings as Garton bowled the South-African for 40 with three balls to go with Saqib Mahmood and Tom Hartley finishing the innings as the visitors finished on 138/8.
In reply, Sussex got off to a tricky start, with Phil Salt dismissed for five at the start of the second over, the opener caught by Luke Wood off the bowling of Mahmood.
Luke Wright and Rawlins steadied the ship after the early loss of Salt, but the pair were restricted by some good Lancashire bowling, adding 17 runs in four overs.
Lancashire continued to bowl in a similar vein to Sussex and were rewarded for their economical bowling with the wicket of Rawlins, Wood producing a superb yorker which bowled the all-rounder for six.
The visitors had kept themselves in the game with the two early wickets and continued to halt the charge of Sussex with Wright and Ravi Bopara adding 17 runs before the latter was trapped leg-before by Hartley for six to leave the hosts under pressure at 45/3.
At the half-way stage, Lancashire looked to be well on top, despite the with Sussex still needing 92 runs off ten overs and things became harder for the hosts an over later when Wiese was dismissed for nine by Livingstone. The part-time leg-spinner had the South-African caught by Jones after the all-rounder mistimed a shot down the ground.
The wicket of Wright looked like it would decide the game, but the Sussex captain looked to be well set in the thirties despite wickets tumbling around him. However, it was Livingstone again that intervened as he got the big wicket of Wright for 36 when the opener was caught by his opposite number Croft on the boundary to swing the tie Lancashire’s way.
The wicket of Wright sparked a Sussex collapse that saw them lose five wickets for six runs with Matt Parkinson picking up three wickets in an over starting with MacLeod, who was caught on the boundary by Wood to depart for seven.
Garton was then bowled for one just two balls later, the all-rounder dismissed in a very unlucky manner as he attempted to reverse sweep the leg-spinner away only for the ball to hit his pad and roll back on to the stumps.
Robinson was stumped by Davies the next ball to all but end Sussex’s hopes before Danny Briggs was trapped leg-before for one by Livingstone the following over to leave the hosts languishing at 79/9.
Will Beer and Mills temporarily staved on the inevitable with the latter treating the few present at Hove to a six off the very first ball he faced.
Beer and Mills managed to survive two overs before the latter was stumped by Davies off Livingstone for 10 to see Sussex bowled out for their lowest T20 total since January 2012.
The defeat for Sussex will mean that Jason Gillespie’s tenure at the county ends with no silverware with The Sharks on the cusp of success multiple times in the T20 Blast but always just missing out.
Despite this, the Sharks will not forget the impact that Gillespie has had and the finds that the competition has produced for Sussex under the Australian.
Head Coach Jason Gillespie said: "I thought we did well to restrict a very good batting team to 140 so to put in a batting performance like that was pretty disappointing. I can't fault their efforts. The preparation had been good but we didn't adapt quickly enough to the conditions and credit to Lancashire, I thought their bowlers did very well. It's an opportunity missed because our bowling and fielding was excellent and the surface wasn't that bad, it was a gettable score."