Sussex Sharks v Essex Eagles
Vitality Blast (South Group)
The 1st Central County Ground, Hove, Monday 14 September
Sussex Sharks: Luke Wright (c), Aaron Thomason, Calum MacLeod, Delray Rawlins, David Wiese, Ravi Bopara, George Garton, Ben Brown (wk), Ollie Robinson, Danny Briggs, Tymal Mills.
Essex Eagles: Cameron Delport, Tom Westley, Dan Lawrence, Michael Pepper (wk), Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (c), Matt Quinn, Jack Plom, Aron Nijjar, Sam Cook.
Umpires: Neil Bainton & Ian Gould
Match Referee: Graham Cowdrey
Toss: Sussex Sharks who elected to field
Result: Essex Eagles win by 12 runs
Dan Lawrence played a pivotal role as the Eagles collected their first win Vitality Blast win of the season when they beat Sussex at Hove by 12 runs.
The 23-year-old starred with both bat and ball hitting 81 out of his side’s 197 for 5 before grabbing two wickets in five balls to give the initiative to the visitors before the Sharks ended on 185 for 8.
It was down Lawrence’s sparkling attack on the home bowlers that gave the Eagles a challenging total to defend as he struck out forcefully and effectively and he followed-up by removing the Sharks top-scorers Aaron Thomason and Delray Rawlins in his only over at a personal cost of just three runs.
Lawrence had underlined his reputation as a future international batsman after the Eagles were out into bat with a superb exhibition of timing and power with 6 maximum blows amongst his 12 boundaries in his innings that spanned just 44 balls.
The right-hander twice cleared the ropes in one Ollie Robinson over and went one better in the next over when hoisting three deliveries from Danny Briggs over the ropes. He looked set for a well-deserved century until former Essex fast bowler Tymal Mills had him caught by Rawlins at mid-off.
He came to the crease after Cameron Delport had been dismissed for a single to the eight balls of the innings but together with Tom Westley, returning to the side as an opener, helped put the Eagles into a respectable position with a stand of 118 in 10 overs.
Westley struck five boundaries including two sixes as he and Lawrence took command. They produced a century stand in 50 balls with Lawrence contributing 60 and Westley 36. Their partnership of 118 was eventually broken in the 12th over when Rawlins had Westley caught at long-off for 39 and eight balls later, Lawrence departed to leave the Eagles 130 for 3 in the 13th over.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Paul Walter failed to reach double figures as the innings faltered but Michael Pepper, deputising behind the stumps for Adam Wheater who was absent for family reasons, boosted the total with a liaison worth 47 in five overs.
Pepper ended with an unbeaten 34 from 24 balls and Harmer was 21 not out when the innings closed.
Eagles skipper Simon Harmer rotated his bowlers effectively as scoreboard pressure also added to the Sharks challenge.
Like Wright and Calum MacLeod fell to Matt Quinn and Harmer respectively to leave Sussex 60 for 2 but Rawlins and Thomason built a partnership to bring their side, who started the math as group leaders, back into contention.
With the score on 119 for 2, Harmer threw the ball to Lawrence who had Rawlins caught off a skier at short third man for 37 and four balls later, Thomason (47) picked out Quinn.
Former Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara joined David Wiese in a stand of 30 but again, Harmer’s instinctive intuition paid off when he introduced Walter into the attack with Sussex requiring 52 runs from four overs with six wickets intact.
With his third delivery, Walter had Bopara caught at long-on for 7 leaving to shoulder the Sharks hopes but although12 were gathered from a Matt Quinn over, the return of Sam Cook brought three wickets in one over.
The paceman had Wiese caught at long-off for 30 with the first ball of the over, and two deliveries later sent George Garton on his way courtesy of a catch by Westley at short third man. Two balls later, Ollie Robinson was run out by a direct throw from Harmer to the non-striker’s end to leave Sussex 170 for 8 and the Eagles on the cusp of celebrating their first victory in this format since last year’s Cup Final.
They now travel to The Ageas Bowl on Wednesday to meet Hampshire.