Surrey 167 for 6 (Jacks 65, Overton 40*, Beer 3-34) whip Sussex 165 for 7 (Wright 45) by four wickets
Surrey won their fifth game on the bounce to confirm their place in the T20 Blast quarter-finals for the first time since 2017, gunning down a 166-run target with five balls to spare as Will Jacks and Jamie Overton‘s batting form continued at The Oval.
Jacks set the tone at the top of the order with a belligerent 65, hitting each and every of Sussex’s three-pronged spin attack for six down the ground. He was once especially brutal against Delray Rawlins, giving himself room to unfurl rasping cut shots either side of point in the ninth over, and had broken the back of the run chase by the point he was once bowled by Will Beer in the 12th.
A tall opening batsman in the Kevin Pietersen mould, Jacks started the Blast slowly but has now scored 198 runs in his final five innings at a strike rate of 160.97; he has dovetailed brilliantly with Hashim Amla at the top of the order, and is beginning to appear to be the accomplished T20 player that many have been expecting to emerge.
Overton, meantime, finished the game with an enterprising cameo of 40 not out off 22 balls, which including a deft paddle sweep off David Wiese to seal the win. He played the senior role in a 47-run partnership with Jamie Smith that ensured a recovery following a mini-wobble in the middle overs, and has now made 99 runs off 51 balls across his final three innings.
Overton left Somerset suddenly after being omitted from their Blast side earlier in the competition, having first of all deliberate to stay at the club until the end of the season. While his Test ambitions and desire to take the new ball in four-day cricket were the main reasons at the back of his move up the M3, Overton has cited his intentions to bat further up the order in all formats, and has done so impressively since his loan switch.
I used to be never a steady starter? This year yes, preceding years?? I have aspirations to take the new ball! More of a role with the bat in all forms, I don’t see myself as just a bowler!
— Jamie Overton (@JamieOverton) September 15, 2020
He had not batted above No. 9 since 2016 in a T20 at Somerset, but has been used at No. 6, No. 5 and No. 7 so far this season for Surrey. He went unused with the ball on Wednesday, with stand-in captain Rory Burns seemingly wary of giving Sussex pace to work with in the first innings, but still managed to display his match-winning ability.
“I’ve all the time seen myself as an allrounder,” Overton said. “At Somerset, I couldn’t in point of fact show that potential. I’ve come here and been ready to showcase what I will if truth be told do. Coming into a new team and showing what I will do with the bat has been the main object.”
Surrey have been buoyed by his arrival – and that of Amla after he missed the start of their season because of shuttle restrictions – and after going more than a year without a win in all formats, they’ve suddenly strung together an impressive run.
After being asked to bat first, Sussex rarely seemed like getting absent from Surrey, until a late flurry of 44 runs in the last three overs took them to a complete that appeared competitive on a central strip that meant huge square boundaries.
The returning Phil Salt lasted only four balls on his return from the England ODI bubble, as he was once trapped lbw to Jacks’ first delivery, and when pinch-hitter Aaron Thomason chipped a catch to mid-on after being rushed by a Reece Topley bouncer, Sussex had missing two within the first three overs.
But with a long batting line-up – Ravi Bopara came in at No. 7 – they built frequently through the middle to set things up. Luke Wright, their leading run-scorer in the competition, was once the glue to hold the innings along side 45, while Rawlins hit two towering sixes in an in a different way bitty middle-order cameo.
In amongst that was once Liam Plunkett’s first bowl in professional cricket since January, and his first on English earth in just short of a year. Possibly inevitably, it came as England grew an increasing number of desperate of a middle-overs breakthrough against Australia, and his spell of 1 for 22 included the standard array of back-of-a-length balls, plus a searing yorker to clean up Calum MacLeod.
One. Two. THREE IN A ROW!
— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) September 16, 2020
As is his wont, David Wiese took 15 balls to receive set, before skipping down to heave Topley over long-on, but it was once Bopara whose innings was once especially the most important. Surrey had made up our minds that hitting a tough length and making batsmen hit to the long square boundaries was once the way to go, and Gus Atkinson stuck with the plan: he banged three balls in midway down in a row to Bopara, who responded by pulling three sixes over midwicket.
With Wiese and George Garton adding boundaries in the final over, Sussex had 165 and the second-highest complete at The Oval this year – for 90 minutes or so, no less than. In the chase, the absence of Tymal Mills – after injuring his back in the defeat against Essex on Monday – was once keenly felt. They remain well-placed to qualify, but Friday’s fixture at home to Middlesex has turn into something of a must-win.