Sussex fan view: ‘Thoughts from the Cromwell Road end’

Sussex fan view: ‘Thoughts from the Cromwell Road end’

Sussex Sharks. Pic via Youtube, with thanks.

In what is proving to be an impressive season for Sussex, the Sharks are heading to their first Finals Day in five years. 

DEC spoke to Sussex supporter Ric Piper, who has shared his thoughts on his side’s chances in Birmingham.

What a September of promise for Sussex, the oldest of the 18 First Class counties. Three rounds of County Championship Division 2 matches left and Sussex are in three way fight with Kent and Warwickshire for the two promotion places.

With Warwickshire having to play both Kent & Sussex, I’m calling it for those old foes Kent & Sussex.

But, as well as the Championship, The Sharks head to Edgbaston to T20 Finals Day.

Sussex were last at a Finals Day in 2012, and they last won it in 2009. Only Will Beer & Luke Wright remain from the 2009 XI. By coincidence Somerset, who were Sussex’s opponents in 2009 and who beat them this year at Hove, will play the Sharks in this year’s second semifinal.

40 years ago, in 1978, Somerset had easily beaten Sussex in both their County Championship games. But in the Gillette Cup Final the brilliance of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and Viv Richards couldn’t beat the Sussex of John Barclay, Paul Parker & John Spencer.

It has been a tremendous feat for the Sharks to get to Edgbaston this year. They had to win their last three games (Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Middlesex) to qualify for the quarterfinal away to Durham. Eight overs from spinners Danny Beer and Will Briggs (Sussex’s all-time leading T20 wicket taker) went for just 36 runs and the crucial wicket of Ben Stokes. Laurie Evans’ 63* & Delray Rawlins 42 saw Sussex home with 10 balls to spare.

Few sides fancy playing against Sussex’s formidable seam attack. Not too many have ever bowled faster at Hove than Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills, backed up by Chris Jordan and David Wiese.

As for the batsmen, when captain Luke Wright scores big, Sussex win. Young Phil Salt is already a crowd favourite and Laurie Evans (averaging 79, 2nd best in the country) is a having a wonderful season. Wicketkeeper Michael Burgess is a good for contributing runs as well.

The Sharks have been helped by having a pretty settled XI throughout the season. But who wouldn’t want to have club captain Ben Brown and Ollie Robinson on the ‘Subs Bench’?

And then, of course, we have our Coach: Jason ‘Dizzy’ Gillespie, ‘The Wizard of Oz’!

In September 1963 an 11 year old little boy travelled with his Dad to Lord’s for the first Gillette Cup Final. A day to remember for ever, with Sussex beating Worcestershire and ‘Lord’ Ted Dexter holding the cup aloft.

55 Seasons on and now a proud holder of a free bus pass and a senior rail card, that same little boy will be off to Edgbaston for his first T20 Finals Day.

There’ll be time, as there always is, to reminisce about Sussex legends who might strengthen our present XI:

CB Fry, holder of the long jump world record, or the two Indian Princes Ranji & Duleep, perhaps. What about ‘Young’ Jim Parks or Snowy? Or from the 2009 XI Murray Goodwin, Chris Nash or Mike Yardy?

But for me, it’s got to be Imran Khan. I only hope Pakistan’s Prime Ministers get Saturdays off.

It’s late in the evening, the floodlights are on, the final has got close; very close. But there can only be the one winner.

Come on The Mighty Sussex Sharks!

After all, what are dreams for, if not to come true?

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