Phil Salt hit 73 and Reece Topley took three wickets in an over in his first match in more than a year as Sussex beat Hampshire by 14 runs at Hove, their first home T20 win against their south coast rivals since 2010.
For Topley, it has been a long and arduous road to recovery since his last professional appearance 12 months ago. Since featuring for Hampshire in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final last year and four England Lions matches, he has been fighting his way back after suffering his fourth stress fracture at the age of 24.
Previous fractures had been treated with rest, but this time he had a titanium screw put into one of his vertebrae and left Hampshire. The recovery went well, and Sussex gave him a chance.
How it paid off here. Chasing 189, Aneurin Donald pulled the first ball of Topley’s second over out of the ground, but the seamer was not fazed. Two balls later Donald was trapped lbw — although replays later showed the ball was going over the top.
James Vince strode in and second ball tried to drive. He inside edged straight through to Ben Brown for a duck. Enter Sam Northeast and, swifter still, exit Sam Northeast, bowled by one that came in from back of a length. Hampshire had lost three wickets for nothing.
Rilee Rossouw had to rein himself in after the early wickets, crunching a cut but taking his time to build an innings alongside Liam Dawson. The Englishman reached 25 before being caught brilliantly at long on by Phil Salt, running in and diving forward.
Chris Morris skied one and James Fuller was bowled to leave Hampshire staring down the barrel at 91-6. Rossouw stood and delivered a six over long on but was hit on the grille by David Wiese a ball later, retiring hurt.
He returned when Chris Wood holed out an over later, and reached a half-century, but slog swept to deep midwicket. Lewis McManus hit a quickfire 32 to give Hampshire hope but he was caught from a skier. Topley ended a late effort from Kyle Abbott to pick up his fourth wicket, and to hand his side victory.
Salt had got Sussex off to a brilliant start, taking 18 from Morris’ first over with a six pulled over midwicket in between a trio of fours. Mason Crane came into the attack and his first ball was dispatched back over long on.
A short ball from James Fuller in the ninth over went to the fence for Salt’s half-century, coming in 28 balls. He slog swept four in Crane’s third over and laid into Morris once again straight after, striking a gorgeous shot over the long on boundary.
Salt fell to Wood, hitting straight to James Vince at cover. James Fuller had attempted a Ben Stokes-esque catch in front of Vince, leaping like a salmon for the spectacular but getting nowhere near the ball.
After being inserted by Hampshire, captain Luke Wright had put on 53 with Salt but he top edged to short third man for 15. Laurie Evans was out bizarrely in Crane’s second over, missing a ball that wicketkeeper McManus fumbled in the air and re-gathered one-handed, only for Evans to be run out thinking the ball had gone loose.
Delray Rawlins struck his first ball for a massive six to cow corner but was caught at long on a ball later, down on one knee but miscuing. Ben Brown tried to release some pressure reverse sweeping a full delivery from Wood, only to be pinned in front. Wood’s two wickets made him Hampshire’s all-time leading T20 wicket-taker.
Rashid Khan played a brilliant cameo, slicing a cut for six to end a run of 19 balls without a boundary. Immediately after, he top edged four and then played a mouth-watering drive through cover, all wrists, before coming down the pitch and striking another six over wide mid off.
Wiese was not out on 44, launching his fifth ball over long on and, after uncharacteristically milking the ball around, took 17 from the final over to get Sussex to 188.