The summer of 2020 will see the T20 Blast go head-to-head with a new franchise tournament labelled as ‘the Hundred’, in which the modest nature of the Blast will fight to remain in the public eye and not be engulfed by the bright lights and big names of ‘the Hundred’.
The second Blast quarter final has a similar feel to it (minus the politics). Durham’s side is compiled of solid County cricketers rather than major stars and their success in the competition is a welcome sight to every cricket lover in the country, given the club’s harsh treatment at the hands of the ECB, similar to the Blast itself.
Sussex, on the other hand, boast a number of franchise stars who will likely be much sought after when the Hundred finally comes to fruition.
At the start of this year’s competition it wouldn’t have taken many people long to guess which of these two sides cruised into the last eight and which made the cut by the skin of their teeth. But Durham have earned their home quarter final, and will now have a sell-out crowd at their backs when they face an impressive Sussex side for the first time in the competition’s fifteenth year.
Indeed, Durham will have to use all the fight they have already shown this year if they are not to be engulfed by an impressive Sussex outfit.
Sussex boast the more impressive bowling outfit, but it is the Jets who have the second leading wicket-taker in their ranks in Nathan Rimmington (22 wickets @ 17.68) and have successfully defended on seven occasions – including just six off the final over against Lancashire.
The Sharks hit the ground running with three wins, before a couple of washouts disrupted their momentum. A strong finish of three more wins, including an emphatic final win against Middlesex in which Tymal Mills claimed a hat trick, ensured a third place finish.
Nathan Rimmington has spearheaded the Jets attack and will have to do so again if the Jets are to reach finals day for the second time in three years. He is arguably as good a death bowler as anyone in the opposition ranks and has proved as much so far this season.
Sussex will have to make the most of Jofra Archer in the next couple of years for he will be one of the leading names in the country by that point, if he is not already. The timing of his four overs in the innings will need to be carefully selected, but the potency of his death bowling is a clue. No doubt if captain Luke Wright is ever in desperate need of a wicket, Archer will be the man he turns to.
Ben Stokes was initially told by the ECB to rest up before the fourth Test against India, due to a minor knee injury, but has since been deemed fit to play. His inclusion adds significant firepower to an already impressive Durham seam department. They could also have done with experienced leg spinner Imran Tahir, who was only signed for the first nine matches. Tom Latham leads the side and the batting line-up brilliantly; while Paul Collingwood’s vast experience could prove vital in such a high profile match.
Edit: new information from Durham states that Ben Stokes will be appearing only as a batsman tonight.
Durham squad: Tom Latham (c), Graham Clark, Paul Collingwood, Will Smith, Ryan Davies, Ryan Pringle, Scott Steel, Stuart Poynter (wk), Nathan Rimmington, Mark Wood, Barry McCarthy, Chris Rushworth, Ben Whitehead, Ben Stokes
Sussex will be without their talisman, Rashid Khan, who is absent due to international commitments. Likewise, they boast an impressive seam attack of Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills, and David Weise. Danny Briggs and Will Beer are both viable spin options, respectively. The Sharks may look a little light on batting but a top three of Luke Wright, Philip Salt, and Laurie Evans provides plenty of firepower.
Sussex squad: Luke Wright (c), Jofra Archer, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, Tom Bruce, Michael Burgess (wk), Laurie Evans, Harry Finch, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, Delray Rawlins, Ollie Robinson, Phil Salt, David Wiese
Form (most recent first):
Weather & Conditions:
A sunny day has been forecast for Friday, with a bit more cloud in the evening. There is always a good cricket pitch up at Chester-le-Street with something in it for batsmen and bowlers alike. The larger nature of the ground tends to contain the scoring slightly – the highest score this season being 170.
Ground: Emirates Riverside
Odds (skybet):Durham – 6/5 Sussex – 4/6