South African all-rounder David Wiese led the Sussex Sharks to a thrilling Royal London One-Day Cup victory over Surrey by two wickets at Hove.
Wiese, batting with a long Sussex tail, appeared to be running out of partners when his side, chasing 275, slumped to 232-7 and then 255-8 after opener Luke Wright’s 69. But he stood firm to strike an unbeaten 92 from 81 balls, with 14 fours, to see Sussex home with 11 balls to spare. It was his highest score for Sussex in 50-over cricket.
Sussex captain Ben Brown said: “It was good to see a big crowd and the sun out. It was a good time to watch cricket. The pitch was a bit sloppy and slow. I thought we fielded brilliantly.
"It was an extraordinary innings by David Wiese. It was one of the best one-day knocks we’ve had in the team for a while. Phil Salt got of us to a flyer against the new ball and Luke Wright batted really well. But the day belonged to David.”
Man of the match Wiese said: “It was a tough wicket. You had to spend time at the wicket to get used to the pace. Tom Curran was the pick of their bowlers so we gave him the respect he deserved and got over the line. It was nice to get off to a good start in this competition.”
One sour note - Sussex say leading bowler Ollie Robinson will be out “for a number of weeks” with a sore shoulder and may miss the entire competition.
Surrey’s all-international line-up were looking to make a statement following their 147-run defeat in their opening game, when they were bowled out for 88, but they were again frustrated by a pitch where the ball didn’t come onto the bat.
Jason Roy, driving uppishly to the first delivery of the sixth over, fell to a tumbling catch by George Garton in the covers. Mark Stoneman and Will Jacks then gave a solid base to the Surrey innings, with a second wicket stand worth 84 in 16 overs, but the mean Sussex bowlers kept a brake on the scoring rate.
They might have done even better. Leg-spinner Will Beer replaced Wiese at the sea end for the ninth over and with his third delivery he had Stoneman dropped at slip by Chris Jordan. A dropped catch by Jordan is something of a collectors’ item.
Stoneman did not make the most of his reprieve. He was lbw to Garton for a 58-ball 38. The gifted Jacks reached his fifty from 52 balls when he lifted Danny Briggs for a straight six, his second. There were also five fours. But he was out soon afterwards, caught at long-off attacking the same bowler.
Rory Burns, attempting to reverse sweep, was bowled by Beer for 13 to make it 146-4 in the 31st over before Ben Foakes (64) and Ollie Pope (33) put on 63 for the fifth wicket.
When Pope, attempting to accelerate the run rate, pulled a slower ball from Hamza to deep midwicket, to make it 209-5 in the 41st over, it was left to the top-scoring Foakes to lead Surrey to respectability. Hamza, with four wickets, was the most successful Sussex bowler.
The Sussex innings got off to a flyer. Phil Salt took 14 of one over from Rikki Clarke, including a hooked six over backward square-leg. Salt scored 32 from 22 balls but then chipped Morne Morkel up in the air.
The fifty came up in the ninth over. And then Wright scored 14 off three deliveries from Liam Plunkett, including a straight six. The only problem he seemed to have was hanging on to partners. At 55 Laurie Evans was caught behind off Tom Curran and three overs later Harry Finch was also caught by wicketkeeper Foakes, this time off Plunkett.
Brown’s disappointing form with the bat continued when he spooned a catch to Roy at midwicket to make it 110-4 in the 19th. But then Wright found a handy partner in Wiese.
These two added 67 for the fifth wicket and with 108 needed from the last 20 overs a large and noisy crowd were beginning to scent victory against their big-name opposition.
But in the 32nd over Wright edged Curran to Foakes. His 83-ball 69 included eight fours and a six. Wiese, though, then received solid support from Jordan, who hit a 26-ball 31 before falling to a fine running catch by Clarke at mid-off. When Garton fell for a duck with 43 still needed the match appeared to belong to Surrey but Wiese had other ideas.