After a long wait, the day arrived of the Sussex vs Surrey T20 at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove. We were excited as we were about to see some world-class cricket. It was a sell out with 6000 spectators. It was an evening match – and this added to the electric atmosphere.
The seagulls flying around were a reminder of being by the sea. When the marching band finished its parade, sounds of Sussex By The Sea rang around the ground and the game began. A Power Play started the game. For the first six overs fielding restrictions encourage the batsmen to go for boundaries which gives a chance for aggressive play in order to score runs quickly.
Improvised shots are needed in order to score at every possible opportunity. Batsmen become creative, they like trick shots, they look good, are effective, and entertaining. Often these plays mimic other sports like tennis and baseball.
Ten overs into the match, the Sussex Sharks were 79 for 3. As they batted first, they needed to get a move on to get a competitive score.
Music is used as a way to celebrate the fours and sixes, to encourage the bowlers and taunt the other side. It encourages a light-hearted friendly atmosphere as the crowd sings along to Sweet Caroline. Music never fails to get the crowd involved. Gina G, and other gems from past decades do the job.
It was good to see England fast-bowler Archer, the man of the moment, riding on his world cup exploits. He strides in to bat. The crowd have high hopes and cheer him on, his job to score some runs. He didn’t stay long but has the chance to redeem himself later.
The game can turn around on a few balls, three sixes or couple of wickets can make a big difference to either side. Maybe a batsman loses his patience under pressure to score and does something rash, adding to the excitement.
You are close to the action wherever you sit. It’s an intimate ground. We sat in the pavilion which afforded us a great view.
It’s different from watching the game on television. You can appreciate the difficult job of the umpire without replays and reviews. You must keep a keen eye on the action, if you blink, you’ll miss that catch or run-out. The perspective is also different when watching the game like this, we were amazed at how far back the wicket keeper stands back from the stumps when the fast bowlers are bowling at close to 100miles an hour. A highlight was watching a Surrey batsman get clean bowled by Mills. The stumps flew through the air, landing some distance away. The 20 overs are time limited so there’s no hanging about, the game doesn’t drag, they are on it the whole time. Penalties are applied for crashing these limits.
The best games are those which are close and where the tension builds throughout the game, all adding to the enjoyment. People were leaning forwards on the edge of their seats. It was nail biting stuff.
It was a tight finish with Surrey needing 11 runs off four balls. Thwack! The ball was leathered for six. With one minute to go, three runs were needed off one ball for a Surrey win. Whack! They run two. It’s a tie. Archer redeems himself by taking two wickets for 21 runs. Mills, however, bettered this with two wickets for 16 including clean bowling Patel with a stump landing 15 feet away.
A more comical highlight was Mills starting his run up to bowl just as a seagull was taking off resulting in a ‘head on collision’ forcing him to abandon his run.
The crowd chanting, in a way reminiscent of being at the football, “Seagulls, Seagulls”. He gathers himself and bowls again, a clean bowl and Curan walks back to the dressing room.
We thought long and hard about what could have been improved and in all honesty, we couldn’t think of anything. The staff were welcoming and friendly, Sussex Cricket have got it right.
The game passes quickly but feels like slow motion, you are in the moment. This would appeal to almost anyone, even if you are not a fan of cricket…….yet.
The Vitality Blast T20 season runs until Fri 30 Aug 2019.
Additional editorial by Lucietta Marganelli
Images courtesy of Southern News & Pictures Ltd