Vitality Blast Match Preview – Sussex v Hampshire

Vitality Blast Match Preview – Sussex v Hampshire

We are getting to the business end of the group stages of the Vitality Blast and this game is as big as any. Sussex Sharks have had a strong start to the competition, challenging Surrey at the top of the South Group. They had a surprise loss to Glamorgan in their last game and they are now just five points ahead of tonight’s opponents Hampshire Hawks, who sit in seventh spot. This match is the game in hand they have over the other teams and the Hawks badly need the win to keep their challenge alive. They have been unfortunate to have three matches washed out, two against bottom placed Middlesex.

The sides met three weeks ago at Southampton, the Hawks’ last outing having had their last match washed out and on that occasion the Sharks won by seven runs. Tom Alsop and James Coles were the main contributors with the bat for the Sharks, who posted 184/8. In reply, James Vince (53) and Joe Weatherley (68*) took the Hawks close, but tight bowling from Natham McAndrew (1/21) and Tymal Mills bowling a 19th over that went for just five runs, left the Hawks short.

For the Sharks, the opening pair of Daniel Hughes and Harrison Ward have been getting them off to a bright start, Hughes lying third in the run scoring for the competition with 354 at a strike rate of 177.88, while Ward has a strike rate of 172.09. They also have a strong bowling unit, led by skipper Mills, who currently leads the competition’s wicket taking with 19. He is backed up by McAndrew and Ollie Robinson, who was rested for the Glamorgan game. Coles provides the spin option.

The Hawks were at Finals Day last season, as they were in 2021 and 2022 and it is odd to see them at the bottom end of the table. They are familiar with having to win games to qualify, taking five of their last six group matches last summer and nine of their last 10 games in 2022, having lost their first four. The good news is that Vince has found some form, having scored a century and a double century in the last two Championship games, as well as the half century in the Blast game against the Sharks. The team have however been short of runs, Weatherley their leading batter with just 240, while Ben McDermott has failed to fire, with just 95 runs from six innings. The bowling has been hit by the end of Michael Neser’s stint and the unavailability of his replacement, South Africa’s Ottniel Baartman, because of visa issues. John Turner could come back into the side, but he has gone at 10.32 runs per over in his six games so far.

The Sharks will want to get back into winning ways, but the urgency of the situation for the Hawks will focus their minds.

Key players

Daniel Hughes has been in electric form at the top of the order for the Sharks and has been putting pressure on the opposition attacks right from the start. The 35-year-old has never quite made it to the international stage, but has now scored 2179 runs from 114 T20 matches. His career strike rate of 126.93 may explain why he has not been picked up for franchise cricket outside Australia, but he has been opening his shoulders in this season’s Blast.

Liam Dawson is arguably the Hawks’ most important player with his batting and left arm spin. Unlike Hughes, he has played for multiple franshises around the world, racking up 267 T20 games, 11 in England colours. He has not had much opportunity with the bat so far this campaign, but is bowling with an economy rate of 7.27 runs per over, which is impressive in the modern game.

Team News

The Sharks will undoubtedly not be leaving Robinson out again. They have relied on a predominantly seam attack, Archie Lenham yet to appear.

Sussex squad: Tymal Mills (c), Tom Alsop, Jack Carson, Ollie Carter, Tom Clark, James Coles, Harry Crocombe, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Daniel Hughes, Ari Karvelas, Danny Lamb, Archie Lenham, Nathan McAndrew, Ollie Robinson, John Simpson (wk), Harrison Ward

The Hawks will need to bring in another bowler following the departure of Neser.

Hampshire Squad: James Vince (c), Toby Albert, Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Benny Howell, Eddie Jack, Ben McDermott (wk), Fletcha Middleton, Tom Prest, John Turner, Joe Weatherley, Brad Wheal, Chris Wood

Weather and Conditions

The forecast is set fair for Hove after the recent rain.

Defending a score at Hove is never easy with the short boundaries. Glamorgan amassed 235 recently, having been put in by Sussex, but it is likely the winning captain will want to chase.

Date: 10th July 2024

Time: 7:00 pm

Ground: County Ground, Hove

Skybet: Sussex Sharks 11/10; Hampshire Hawks 4/6


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