Essex completes the Hove heist because of Harmer’s hat-trick

Simmon Harmer goes for a Hat Trick

As Essex defeated Sussex Sharks by 25 runs to give it two victories in a row in the Vitality Blast, captain Simon Harmer achieved just the third T20 hat-trick by an Essex bowler.

Essex easily held off a 164-run target thanks in a major way to the 34-year-old offspinner, who struck with his first three deliveries after entering the game in the third over.

Although he was assisted by some bad shot selection by Sussex’s more seasoned batters, Harmer started to cast his spell after Sussex had already lost their captain Ravi Bopara in the first over of their reply.

His first victim Fresh off a game-winning fifty in Sunday’s victory over Surrey, Tom Alsop attempted to hit over the top but instead gave Sam Cook a short third catching practice. The following delivery from Shadab Khan was grabbed to square leg, and Michael Burgess was lbw sweeping the hat-trick delivery that was intended to strike middle stump.

Since Shaun Tait’s against Nottinghamshire in 2013, it was Essex’s first hat-trick in the format, and it was the first against Sussex since Dimi Mascarenhas for Hampshire in 2004.

With Bopara picking out short-third off the fourth ball from Sam Cook, opening in place of the injured Ali Orr, Sussex were 15 for 4, and their chase was practically finished before it really got going.

Sussex’s head coach, Paul Farbrace, was scathing. “It was a score we should have comfortably chased down,”

he said.

“We didn’t have a very clear mindset when we chased and didn’t bat well at all. The first four wickets were very poor dismissals.

“Ravi set the tone, it was a lazy waft outside off stump and he gave his wicket away. Tom Alsop was looking to hit a wide ball over long-on, Shadab has lobbed one to square leg and Michael Burgess played the first sweep I’ve seen from him in two weeks. That summed up our innings.

“I don’t mind people getting out but we gave our wickets away in a pretty non-aggressive way. It was a pretty lame performance, if that’s the standard of how we’re going to bat in the rest of the tournament we’re going to lose a lot of games. We should be ashamed of that. We’ve now got two games in two days at the weekend but we need to bat a damn sight better than we did tonight. That was not good enough.”

After a few challenges from James Coles (35), Tom Clark (31) and Ollie Carter (27), Harmer regained to claim the fourth four-wicket haul of his T20 career by having Fynn Hudson-Prentice wonderfully caught one-handed by Tom Westley off a full-blooded reverse lap.

On a successful night for Essex’s spinners, the South African finished with 4 for 28 while Matt Critchley (3 for 28) and Dan Lawrence (1 for 15) also picked up wickets as Sussex was dismissed for 138 with eight balls remaining.

Before that, Sussex appeared to have validated Bopara’s choice to bat first against his previous county by limiting Essex to 163 for 7 thanks to a steady effort by their seven-man attack.

Shadab Khan, a Pakistani leg-spinner, took the lead with 3 for 28, all of which were catches in the mid-wicket area. After colliding with teammate Nathan McAndrew in the outfield last Friday in the loss to Somerset, Shadab was unable to bowl on his debut, and concussion protocols prevented him from playing in Sunday’s victory over Surrey.

In his second over, he made up for lost time by getting two wickets in quick succession as Critchley top-edged a sweep to mid-wicket and Paul Walter flicked the following ball to Bopara. In his final over, Shadab made a comeback to dismiss Westley after another poorly timed leg-side swipe.

Essex had a debt of gratitude to their opener Feroze Khushi, who kept the innings together with 55 off 38 balls before driving a slower ball from Tymal Mills to mid-off in the thirteenth over after hitting four fours and two sixes.

When Lawrence drove his first ball onto the roof of the South Stand, he appeared to be in a good mood. However, Lawrence mistimed a pull off Mills, who finished with 2 for 32 and mixed up his pace nicely. Lawrence was released from England’s Test team to play this game and tomorrow night’s match against Hampshire in Chelmsford.

After being dropped by Bopara on 9, Robin Das finished with an unbroken 31 and added 35 alongside Harmer (21 not out) in the last overs. The Essex captain’s runs were important, but his biggest influence on the situation was yet to come.