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Sussex Win 2016 National League title

10th November 2016

Sussex Sharks

For the third time in the past six seasons Sussex Sharks secured the BCEW National League title. Their 2016 success follows triumphs in 2011 & 2012.

Sharks title bid started with a superb performance to defeat 2015 league winners Warwickshire Bears by 71 runs. A 76 run opening partnership from Joe Harrison (88) & Toby Collins (33) got Sussex off to a flying start & when Harrison combined with Jimmy Millard (17) for a 67 run 4th wicket stand Sharks were well ahead. The Bears fought back well with Hassan Ali taking 3-16 to bowl them out for 204 after 30 overs, leaving themselves the same number of overs to try to reach the target. Justin Hollingsworth scored a battling 59 but as nobody else could score more than 13 Warwickshire fell well short as Joe Harrison (3-21) & Ian Morris (2-48) did most of the damage.

Next up for Sussex should have been an away game at Northants Steelbacks, but Northants couldn’t fulfil the fixture on the original date & Sussex felt unable to rearrange the fixture, so the match was awarded to the Sharks.

Sussex’s next match was away to Yorkshire, with the Vikings off form & two wickets falling early it looked like Sussex might sweep Yorkshire aside, but a 73 run partnership from George Ferguson (79 from 81 balls) & Martin Wilson (17 from 51 balls) gave the home side hope until Wilson was run out with the score at 100. Ferguson stuck around until the score reached 129, but he was unable to find any support from the other end with only youngster Jordan Swann (7 not out) providing any real resistance. Yorkshire did manage to last 32.2 overs with Sussex’s main bowling threat coming from Jimmy Millard (2-22) & Ian Morris (2-49). Sussex had no trouble chasing down their target, a 66 run opening stand between Toby Collins (32) & Si Ledwith was followed by an unbroken 88 run partnership between Ledwith, who finished 75 not out, & Ian Morris (12 not out) saw Sharks over the line with 9 wickets & 12 overs to spare.

Si Ledwith

In late July Sussex hosted Lancashire Lions knowing that they were now strong favourites for the title. Lions struck early in Sussex’s innings with Mohammed Janaid claiming two early wickets & then Joe Harrison retiring hurt to leave them in trouble at 22/3. Dan Field & Jimmy Millard were able to bring the score up to 76 before Janaid took his third & Lancashire’s fourth wicket, with Millard out for 10. The match turned at that point though as a fantastic 142 run partnership between Field & Andy Dalby-Welsh brought the score to 218/5 when Dalby-Welsh fell for 38. Field was eventually dismissed for 140, Toby Collins also contributed 41 as Sharks were eventually bowled out for 332 after 38 overs with Sheraz Chohan taking 3 late wickets. This only left Sussex 22 overs to try & bowl Lancashire out, despite Ian Morris’s 3-45 & Jimmy Millard’s 2-18 they could only reduce the Lions to 109/5 as the game finished in a draw.

On Saturday 6th August Sussex hosted London Metro with both teams in search of a victory, in Sussex’s case it would seal the title, in Metro’s it would make them title favourites, a draw would have been bad for both sides so everyone knew that an attacking game was in store.

Sussex lost two early wickets, Joe Harrison & Ian Morris both falling to Gareth Jones to leave them on 16/2. Si Ledwith & Dan Field brought the score up to 92 before Ledwith was run out for 42 by Jones. At that point everything changed thanks to an astonishing & brutal partnership from Dan Field & Toby Collins, that eventually ended with the score on 281 when Collins was dismissed for 57. Dan Field finished 158 not out as Sussex declared on 327/4 after 30 overs.

Toby Collins

Metro’s reply never really got a solid base as several wickets fell early, including that of England Captain Matt Dean who was caught by Toby Collins off Jimmy Millard’s bowling. Mo Ghalib did reach 50 from 92 balls before his own dismissal but nobody else reached 12 as Johe Harrison (4-24) & Ian Morris (2-34) helped Sharks bowl Metro out for 113 with 10 balls left in the match to secure both the win & the title.

Sussex’s league season should have ended with a trip to Somerset, but with the match being rained off for the second time in four months it was declared a draw.

The Sussex Players Who Won the Title: Toby Collins, Matt Cooper, Andy Dalby-Welsh, David Daniels, Dan Field, Matthew Greenhough, Joe Harrison, Marcus Kippling, Si Ledwith, Jimmy Millard, Ian Morris, Mark Oliphant, Alex Towers.