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Sussex Cup win marred by distressing injury

9th September 2014

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The 2014 BBS Primary Club Heindrich Swanepoel Memorial Cup Final was a high quality match but it will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

After the original date for the Final was cancelled, Somerset VICC and Sussex Sharks met at the pleasant East Tytherley Cricket Ground in Hampshire on a warm day in early September.

Somerset won the toss in their first ever final and put Sharks in to bat, a decision that looked wise as they dominated the first 15 overs of the match.

Sussex openers Joe Harrison and Si Ledwith fell early before Ian Morris equalled his career-best score with 28 runs in a 54-run third wicket partnership with Dan Field.

Once Morris was dismissed, Somerset all rounder Ed Hossell tore through the middle order with a devastating 4-24 to leave the Sharks reeling at 91/6 after 15 of their 30 overs.

However, Dan Field was still at the crease and the England star launched a blistering counter-attack featuring eleven fours and a six. Mark Burchell, batting at number nine, batted well for 18 in a 53-run partnership with Field which was ended when the ball was driven back at Rory Hossell who tipped it on to the stumps to run Field out for a brilliant 91.

Rob Crisp then finished off the tale to claim 3-32 as Sussex were dismissed for 193.

Sharks were delighted to have recovered so well, whereas Somerset must have thought they were going to be chasing a far lower total at the half-way point of the innings.

Somerset’s reply started like a train with 29 coming from the first three overs before Burchell struck with the ball to herald a spectacular collapse. In the fourth over, the bowler removed Rob Crisp for three; in the fifth over it was Ed Hossell falling to Field for 23; and in the sixth over Burchell struck again to remove Martin Hallett as the Cidermen slipped to 43/3.

Rory Hossell was next to fall for 16 after a powerful shot hit Burchell and before the batsman could get back to his ground, Jimmy Millard threw down the stumps to claim the run out.

Field, who was voted Partially Sighted Man of the Match, took a caught and bowled before Morris, Total Man of the Match, took two wickets in his first over leaving the score at 64/7. Fittingly, the two standout performers combined for that seventh wicket as Field took the catch off Morris’ bowling.

But the game finished in horrible circumstances as in the following over a powerful sweep shot sent the ball hard into the face of Sussex wicketkeeper Ledwith. The impact of this head injury caused blood to enter the one eye Si can see out of and he was helped from the field as an ambulance was called.

It was immediately clear that this was potentially a very serious injury and everyone present was very upset about what had happened, meaning nobody wanted the match to continue.

Somerset offered to forfeit the match but this proved to be unnecessary as Sussex were awarded the win as they were seven runs ahead on comparative score.

Initially, Ledwith had no vision for several hours after the accident but by Saturday evening some vision had started to return and as of Monday evening he has some usable vision back.

He will be seeing a specialist later this week due to the complex nature of his sight combined with the seriousness of the injury sustained, but it is hoped that when the blood fully drains away he may make a full recovery.

We hope to have a further update on Si’s condition here or on our official Twitter account (@UKBlindCricket) near the end of the week.

British Blind Sport Board Member and Match Referee for the Final Dave Gavrilovic said: “That was the most frightening thing I’ve ever seen on a cricket field. Many of us at the final have known Si for more than a decade and everyone’s best wishes go out to him, hoping for a full recovery.

“I would like to thank Somerset for the outstanding sportsmanship they showed throughout the day but especially after the accident. Sussex held themselves together brilliantly and showed great strength and support for Si.

“Thank you to everyone who helped arrange the match and the Primary Club for funding the competition, but especially thank you to everyone who helped look after Si after the accident.

“I’m so, so pleased that Si’s vision has already started to return and hope it will continue to improve.”

After the Final many of those involved were quick to show their support.

Primary Club Trustee and Cup Final Umpire Bob Southward said: “Our best wishes go to Si for a full recovery from what was a quite scary injury.

“May I thank everybody for the match which was played in a wonderful spirit throughout – the true strength of VI cricket was shown by the genuine reaction of all players to Si’s injury. It was a privilege to be there.”

Somerset Vice Captain Rob Crisp tweeted: “Glad to hear good news about Si, horrendous thing to witness. Congratulations to Sussex but puts everything into perspective really.”