Tom Alsop and Michael Burgess give Surrey a jolt in Oval upset
With just one ball remaining, Sussex Sharks defeated Surrey in the Vitality Blast by five wickets thanks to the dogged unbeaten 51 of Tom Alsop and the superb 28-ball 48 of Michael Burgess.
When Sussex battled to 57 for four after Sunil Narine, who took two for 18 from his four overs and produced a wicket maiden in the 11th over, delivered a wicket, they appeared out of it after bowling out the hosts for 148 on a used surface.
However, a match-winning combination of 77 runs in eight overs between Burgess and Alsop stunned Surrey, who had won their first two Blast games of the season, and brought the Sharks to the verge of their first South Group victory.
Burgess was caught at short third man on the final ball of the 18th over after smashing Dan Worrall for a stunning six into nearly the second tier of the JM Finn Stand. He did this by cutting a low full toss to Nathan Barnwell, the replacement fielder, who hung on well.
After Sam Curran bowled a tight penultimate over, Sussex needed 16 from the next two overs and then ten from the final one. Alsop was up to the task of taking ten off Tom Lawes.
The left-handed Alsop drove Lawes’ second ball through extra cover for three runs before leveling the score by driving Lawes’ fourth ball back past the bowler for a lofted boundary after James Coles had taken a single from the previous ball.
The game-winning single came when Alsop pulled Lawes over the ring field. His 42-ball anchor knock also contained four fours and legside sixes off Worrall and Cameron Steel.
But Burgess, who was on loan from Warwickshire and had previously come up via Surrey’s youth program before joining Sussex for three seasons starting in 2017, had actually played the game’s first innings. The majority of the 19 runs that Worrall scored in the 15th over went to him, including a spectacular square-cut six that landed on the boundary rope.
Burgess helped the Sharks overcome injury setbacks like opener Ali Orr having to bat with a runner but still scoring 24 runs off of 15 balls after injuring his knee early in the game while attempting to take a boundary catch by hitting two sixes and five fours overall. Sussex needed 52 runs from the remaining five overs.
Narine had previously struck three sixes in a quick-fire 29, but he later became the first of Ravi Bopara‘s three victims in a brilliant session of three for 18 from the 12th, 14th, and 16th overs. As a result, Surrey’s innings somewhat died out as their final four wickets fell for only two runs in nine deliveries.
Shadab Khan from Pakistan and Nathan McAndrew from Australia, who were both rested after their unfortunate on-field accident in the Sharks’ opening game loss to Somerset at Hove, were the two overseas players missing from Sussex’s bowling unit when Surrey launched their initial attack.
In the third over, which included two more fours from Will Jacks and 16 runs, Laurie Evans hoisted Coles’ left-arm spin for a six into the back tier of the Bedser Stand after taking two legside fours from George Garton in the second over.
Tymal Mills, who was brought in for the fifth over, finally got the breakthrough when Jacks fell for 13, splitting Henry Crocombe’s fast-medium to mid-wicket, and Evans lost his off stump on 23, making room to carve. As a result, Surrey finished the six-over powerplay on 42 for two.
Sam Curran’s innings was ended after just two runs thanks to a very fantastic low diving catch by Coles at backward point. The fielder scooped the ball up with his right hand as the England all-rounder whacked Archie Lenham’s leg spin hard for what he must have thought would be a boundary.
By the halfway point of the innings, Narine and Tom Curran had added 53 runs for the fourth wicket, using their mid-innings aggression to help Surrey reach 82 for three.
However, Bopara then started to work his own brand of medium-pace magic as Narine lofted to long on and Curran (23) skied to extra cover, where Alsop took a superb running catch over his shoulder.
Lenham was assaulted by Jamie Smith for two straight fours, but on 19, when he attempted to sweep a straight ball after moving outside his off stump, Bopara bowled him.
Jamie Overton was bowled for 13 by a thunderbolt that struck his off stump, and both Steel and Lawes were run out when attempting to come back for a second run, with Lawes being dispatched without facing a ball. Mills returned to help his skipper turn the screws on Surrey’s bottom order.
Jordan Clark swinging and missing at Garton to depart for just eight, ending the innings with three balls remaining unused, left Surrey short of a par score and guilty of losing their composure in the face of some fine Sussex out-cricket.
The Sharks’ response slowed further when Bopara edged Narine’s third ball behind and the West Indian mystery spinner also had Garton caught by keeper Smith for 7. Tom Clark was the first Sussex player to be eliminated, caught at extra cover off Worrall for nine, and after Orr was taken at backward point off Lawes, the Sharks’ reply stalled even further.
However, Alsop and Burgess maintained their composure in front of a large audience, and an equation of 71 from six was accomplished with Narine being bowled out at the end of the 14th over. In the meanwhile, their partnership against Surrey set a fifth-wicket T20 record for Sussex.