Match Preview: Sussex Sharks v Essex Eagles


Sussex Sharks v Essex Eagles

Vitality Blast
The 1st Central County Ground, Hove
Friday 09 July
7pm start


With Head Coach Anthony McGrath called temporarily into the England coaching set-up for the ODI and T20 series with Pakistan, bowling coach Andre Nel will take charge of the Essex Eagles for the remainder of their Vitality Blast Group matches and the County Championship match with Derbyshire that begins on Sunday.

An upturn in recent form has afforded the Essex Eagles an opportunity of claiming a top-four place in the tightly-contested Vitality Blast South Group and consequently a place in the knockout stages of the competition.

Simon Harmer’s team travel to Hove to meet the Sussex Sharks on Friday night having won four of their last five matches, a sequence of results that has seen them move away from the foot of the table. Now just 2 points behind Sussex Sharks, who start the match in fourth place with 13 points, both teams are in hot pursuit of Kent Spitfires who lead the group with 15 points.

The Eagles will be looking to improve on their performance when the sides met at The Cloudfm County Ground last month. Despite 38 from Michael Pepper and 26 by Will Buttleman, Essex could only manage a modest 128 for 8 from their 20 overs.

The Sharks made short work of their target with skipper Luke Wright leading the charge with 75 from 44 balls as Sussex Sharks coasted home by 7 wickets with 36 balls to spare.

This time around, both teams have been affected by international call-ups with Dan Lawrence and Phil Salt drafted into the England ODI squad leaving both sides without an influential batsman.


Sussex Squad: Luke Wright (c), Will Beer, Ravi Bopara, Oli Carter, Mitch Claydon, Henry Crocombe, Travis Head, Chris Jordan, Archie Lenham, Ali Orr, Delray Rawlins, Ollie Robinson, Harrison Ward, David Wiese.


McGrath’s View:

Although currently involved with England coaching duties, Essex Head Coach Anthony McGrath reflected on his team’s recent efforts; “We’ve won four of our last five games and, as I said earlier in the tournament, you do need to get on a roll to build momentum and that’s how it’s turned out,” he stated.

“It’s a shame that we couldn’t get things started a tad earlier but given our results and results from elsewhere, going into the last three matches we do now have a real chance of challenging to reach the knockout stages.

“Twenty20 cricket is amazing, one day you can look really shocking and then you can make your opponents’ look exactly the same the very next night. Sometimes there’s no rhyme nor reason to it, people put it down to selection or winning the toss or whatever but, at the risk of repeating something I’ve said all along, it’s all about individuals stepping-up to put in a defining performance.

“Someone might have a great over or two with the ball or somebody has a productive five overs or so with the bat and that can make a real difference and be a game-changer.

“If you can string 4 or 5 wins together, it puts you in a real strong position and builds that momentum and confidence.

“One of the pleasing thing in the last few games is how we’ve performed with the ball; we’ve got wickets in the powerplay and then with the bat, we’ve been getting half-centuries. But the outstanding issue has been the way that we’ve fielded.

“It’s something we’ve talked about in the last couple of years and a lot of work has gone in to improving that side of our game. I must give credit to the guys who really bought into it and we’ve seen some unbelievable catches and run outs and diving stops. That’s been really pleasing for me because there is one thing that you can control in T20 cricket and that’s how you field.

“So, with three games left, we’ve given ourselves a chance of a top-four place but we must be at the top of our game during all of our final three matches if we want to maintain hopes of that top-four spot.”



Coach: James Kirtley
Captain: Luke Wright
Last Year’s Performance: Quarter-Finals
2021 Leading Runscorer: Luke Wright (213 runs @ 53.25)
2021 Leading Wicket Taker: Tymal Mills (11 @ 15.27)
Overseas players: David Wiese (South Africa), Travis Head (Australia), Rashid Khan (dependant on arrival from PSL)

Sussex Sharks have been cruelly treated by the weather in this year’s competition with five of their 11 matches abandoned whilst they have won four of the six matches that have been completed.

Their most recent victory came last Friday when they beat Glamorgan by 33 runs with Luke Wright hitting 77 before 16 year-old leg-spinner Archie Lenham returned figures of 4 for 26.


Head to Head:

The teams have met on 29 previous occasions in T20 cricket which has resulted in 13 wins and 16 defeats for The Eagles.

The latest of those victories came at Hove last year. Essex posted 197 for 5 with Dan Lawrence providing a memorable 81. His first 46 runs came entirely in boundaries and he reached his half-century from 24 balls with 4 four and 5 sixes. Together with Tom Westley (39) 118 were added in 10 overs and although the visitors found themselves 150 for 5 with 4 overs remaining, Simon Harmer (21) and Michael Pepper (34) added an unbroken 47 runs to set the home side a challenging total.

Lawrence then showed his hand as a bowler to be respected when, in his only over, he removed both Sussex openers. With 4 overs remaining, the Sharks needed 52 runs but the dismissal of former Essex favourite Ravi Bopara for 7 proved defining with the hosts left to settle for 185 for 8 from their 20 overs.


How to Watch:

There will be a Live Stream service from The 1st Central County Ground which will be broadcasting ahead of play from 7pm via Essex Cricket Matchzone. The stream will also be available via the Sussex Cricket YouTube Channel.

Access via the Essex Cricket Matchzone is available here.