Something special happened at the Could County Ground when Ravi Bopara and his Sharks came to town. I still can’t get used to Ravi playing for another team, I’m not a fan of that, at all! Ravi won the toss and elected to field, he was asked who’d returned to the team and to my delight, as a fan of the Pakistan team, he mentioned in a throwaway comment that Mohammed Rizwan was back! In his T20i career he’s scored 1662 runs in 45 innings at an average of 50.4. He scored 1326 of those T20i runs in one calendar year and was one of the Wisden Players of the Year in 2021 as well as the ICC Men’s T20 Cricketer of the Year. Even without the interest in Pakistan Cricket I have those are mouth watering facts.
But, the Essex innings first! The PowerPlay hasn’t been great is far this season, Adam Rossington hasn’t really kicked off, but, on this evening he scored 35 in 31 balls before he was out in the 5th over, Essex were 50 for 1 with an over of the PowerPlay to go. He was caught by Tom Alsop from the bowling of Steven Finn. Michael Pepper hit a quick 34 in 18 balls, going for a successful ramp shot before repeating the move to be bowled by Bopara. He and Feroze Khsuhi, who’s making the 2nd opening spot his own, put on 44 for that 2nd wicket.
Khushi, who has a very attractive range of shots had made 34 from 26 balls when he was caught and bowled by Tymal Mills. Essex were 120 for 3 after 12 overs. Matt Critchley’s proving t0 be a good signing for Essex, he scored 34 from 20 balls. Paul Walter was next to go, he’s also having a good T20 season but was out for just 12 from 8 balls, bowled by another top class white ball cricketer Rashid Khan.
Daniel Sams had come in in the 15th over, and wow was he in the mood! He and Critchley put on 51 for the 5th wicket and he scored 71 from 24 balls, hitting 6 Fours and 6 Sixes, a perfect Friday night innings! The good start and that innings took Essex to a club record of 244 for 7 in the 20 overs bowled.
That was a winning score surely? But, bear in mind this was Sussex of Luck Wright’s 153! Talking of Luke Wright, he opened with Rizwan, but was out for just 12 before Rizwan, Ali Orr and Tom Alsop ruined a few bowlers averages. I’ve never seen Rizwan bat live, I’ve also never seen such an effortless innings. A diminutive man he simply flicked his wrists and the ball went for Six. He scored 66 from 32 balls, hitting 5 Fours and 5 Sixes. He and Orr had put on 87 for the 2nd wicket, Orr made 38 from just 18 balls, he was given out LBW to Aron Nijar. Rizwan was given out LBW to Simon Harmer, his response suggested he was pretty certain he wasn’t out, but the finger was raised.
Tom Alsop and who else but Ravi Bopara put on 69 for the 4th wicket as Sussex raced towards age required score. Alsop scored 45 from 26 balls. Rshid was out for a Golden Duck, a relief, he can bat as well as bowl. Bopara kept on going though, his was the key wicket with 3 balls of the match remaining, he’d scored 51 from 26 balls. Sussex finished on 233 for 6. 477 runs in 40 overs, pretty good value cricket!