Under the Hove floodlights last night, Sussex defeated Somerset by 4 wickets. The margin of victory doesn’t do justice to Sussex’s performance, even the 15 balls remaining suggests that the match was closer than it was.
Although Wayne Parnell seemed to pull a hamstring in his first and only over, he was not missed as the homegrown left-arm seamer Chris Liddle removed both Craig Kieswetter and Peter Trego in the fourth over (at one time having figures of 2-2). Marcus Trescothick swatted three sixes and two fours in a powerful 33, but the off-spinner Oliver Rayner took his wicket thanks to a remarkable catch on the boundary by Luke Wright.
Despite being 42/3, the strength of Somerset’s batting line-up should have seen them through to a competitive score, but they played carelessly, whilst Sussex fielded with vigour and took their chances. The star for the home side was Rayner, a player who had been loaned out to Middlesex earlier in the season and who was only in the team as a replacement for Michael Yardy, but who nonetheless rattled through the middle order to finish with 5-18 from his four overs. James Hildreth was caught behind by Andy Hodd first ball and by the time Rayner caught and bowled Jos Buttler, Somerset had been reduced to 56/7.
Craig Meschede and Murali Kartik did their best to steer the visitors to a healthy total, but Naved-ul-Hasan came in to the attack and soon dismissed the former. When Rayner caught Gemaal Hussain of the bowling of Wright, Somerset were all out for a humbling 90 off 17.2 overs. Monty Panesar bowled smartly and Wright’s figures of 1-9 from three overs highlights his ability in this form of the game, but it was Rayner who took the plaudits.
Despite losing six wickets in the run-chase, Sussex stumbled only slightly, at one time being 23/3 from 5 overs; openers Nash and Wright having been dismissed by Hussain, the latter following a fantastic catch by Kieswetter. However stand-in captain Murray Goodwin and overseas player Lou Vincent settled the nerves with sensible batting. Roelof van der Merwe captured both their wickets to finish with 2-15 from three overs, but in truth Sussex’s performance was as impressive as the purple Hove sunset and they reached 91/6 with 15 balls remaining- fittingly Rayner hit the winning runs. In truth Somerset bowled competently and fielded well (Kieswetter deserves credit for an impressive match behind the stumps), but 90 was an impossible total to defend.
Sussex will move to Lord’s on Thursday in second place to Hampshire and with blossoming confidence. Meanwhile Somerset (third in the table) play at Essex today and will hope, and demand, more from their batsmen.
Somerset 90allout (17.2 overs) (Trescothick 33, Rayner 5-18)
Sussex 91/6 (17.3 overs) (Goodwin 27, van der Merwe 2-15)