Sussex Sharks v Somerset – Natwest T20 Blast live on Sky Sports 2
The Sky Sports cameras will be at The County Ground, Hove, on Wednesday night, as Sussex entertain Somerset in the South Group. Visitors Somerset lost their opening game to Kent with 16 balls spare despite posting 197, whereas hosts Sussex were victorious against Gloucestershire. Sussex made a ridiculous 242 before rain halted Gloucestershire’s reply at 83/1 in the 8th over – Sussex won by 1 run courtesy of the Duckworth/Lewis method – the kind of close win that makes all the difference come the end of the Group Stages.
A cloudy evening on the south coast is forecast with temperatures hovering in the late teens. There is 15% chance of showers but nothing too heavy; we should get a full game in.
Sussex tend to split their games between picturesque Arundel and the County Ground, Hove. Here’s a list of first innings scores made at Hove in the T20 blast over the past two years –
2015 – 165, 204, 165, 136, 140, 221, 167 – Average 171
2014 – 151, 149, 107, 189, 177, 171 – Average 157
Sussex batted first in 7 matches in last years competition with the following scores –
165, 164, 136, 141, 140, 175, 167 – Average 155
Somerset only batted first in 2 matches last year, so we’ve included their last 5 from 2014 –
174, 159, 183, 136, 175, 155, 150 – Average 161
New Zealand’s Ross Taylor captained Sussex in their opening game in Wright’s absence (below) and led from the front with a match-winning 93 off 48 balls. Experienced opener Chris Nash scored 30 off 17 and looks to be in the same good touch as last year where he scored 5 half-centuries in 13 innings. Scottish middle order batsman Matthew Machan averages over 26 in domestic T20 matches and biffed 31 off just 12 balls in that narrow Gloucestershire victory. Left-arm spinner Danny Briggs has joined from neighbours Hampshire – he took 18 wickets in 2015 and is one of county cricket’s best finger spinners. There’s raw pace with the ball with left-armer Tymal Mills and former England tearaway, Ajaml Shahzad. Mills took 19 wickets in 12 matches last year at an average of 18.9 apiece. Chris Jordan should return from IPL duty where he helped bowl Bangalore to a runners-up spot, including taking 3-45 in the Final. Sussex appear to have most basis covered and could be the surprise package of 2016.
Jim Allenby leads Somerset in white ball cricket and will have to decide whether to continue at the top of the order what with Gayle’s imminent arrival (below) plus the potential Somerset debut of Sri Lankan legend and now freelance T20 batsman, Mahela Jayawardena. Allenby compiled 91 off 59 balls against Kent and was the counties second top scorer in 2015 with 295 runs. Peter Trego is more a batsman than an all rounder nowadays and will likely bat at number three. Scottish international Michael Leak averages a lowly 13 in 20 domestic T20 matches whilst young wicket-keeper Ryan Davies still only has a best score of 22 in 15 career matches for Somerset in all forms. The Overton twins, Jamie and Craig, have T20 statistics that don’t match their talents and need to start delivering more consistent performances. Pakistani seamer Yasir Arafat has 277 career T20 wickets whilst Max Waller’s career economy of 7.2 runs per over is highly impressive for someone that bowls leg-spin predominately at Taunton. The big question is if Gayle fails (or decides not to travel so soon post-IPL) can they score enough runs?
New Sussex skipper Luke Wright is confident of returning from injury for this match which will be his first of the season. Wright had a busy winter playing T20 cricket for Melbourne Stars (which included scoring a century in front of 90,000 at the MCG ) and lately the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League. The hard hitting opening batsman scored 564 runs in last competition – bettered only by three others.
Chris Gayle should be available for Somerset, fresh from his latest stint in the IPL playing for Bangalore. The West Indian star opener has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons recently, but arrives back in Somerset after a short but successful spell of three matches in 2015. Those handful of matches saw Gayle smash 328 runs including an incredible 151* off just 62 balls against Kent. If he gets in then look out – Gayle has hit 650 sixes in his 253 domestic T20 career matches. He’s not in great form having made 7 single figure scores in 10 IPL matches this year.
Always a tough one when someone like Chris Gayle is potentially around but I fancy Somerset are too dependant on the West Indian. Let’s take them on.
If Sussex bat first I recommend backing any OVER RUNS around the 162-165 mark.
If Somerset bat first I recommend backing any UNDER RUNS around the 162-165 mark.
Top Batsman Market
Ross Taylor is a famine or feast type batsman and his form comes and goes. Cash in whilst he appears to be in top form; he can backed at 4.33 to top score for Sussex.
Captain Jim Allenby looks to be leading from the front for his struggling Somerset side and can be backed at 3.50
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