Archer stars - and Sussex's first win is Hants' opening loss
Jofra Archer recorded his career best Twenty20 figures to help Sussex end Hampshire's unbeaten start to the Natwest T20 Blast.
West Indian-born fast bowler Archer posted figures of four for 18 from his four overs to restrict Hampshire to a below-par 126. And Sussex eased to their first victory of the tournament as Chris Nash and Ben Brown crashed an 82-run stand before Chris Jordan hit the winning runs to complete the six wicket thrashing with 16 balls to spare.
James Vince won the toss for Hampshire and decided to bat on a grubby-looking track as they attempted to celebrate a fourth successive Blast win – but scoring never looked easy for the hosts. David Wiese hinted at what was to come as he had Rilee Rossouw caught by a diving Jofra at mid-off with the match’s fifth ball.
Tom Alsop was the only batsman to appear comfortable for the hosts as he made his first appearance in the competition, and his first-team appearance for Hampshire since May. He uppercut back to back sixes off the returning Tymal Mills – who was also making his maiden outing this season after IPL commitments and a hamstring problem.
As former England Lions star Alsop appeared in control, wickets fell at the other end. Vince swiped across the line to be caught at cover before George Bailey departed to a stunning Wiese grab while running back at backward square.
Sean Ervine was next to enter... and exit when he miscued a pull to square leg as Archer celebrated his first scalp of the evening – Sussex restricting the hosts to 30 for four.
Alsop enjoyed his greatest partnership with fellow academy graduate Lewis McManus as they added 48. The left-hander moved to his second Blast fifty in 30 deliveries with a crashed pull to the boundary.
Former Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs impressed as he yorked McManus and had Shahid Afridi lbw on the sweep – as he recorded figures of two for 17. But Archer stood out when he finally saw the back of Alsop for 64, caught at short fine leg attempting to scoop an over after being dropped, before he bowled Kyle Abbott. Reece Topley was the last wicket to fall as the home side could only post 126.
Sussex’s reply got off to a poor start as left-armer Topley pinned Luke Wright leg before with an in-swinger. Runs seemed to flow more quickly in the second innings with Chris Nash and Ben Brown constantly picking the gaps – although the latter was spilled by Bailey on 18.
The carried Sussex to within 42 runs of the win before Brown was lbw for 43 to Afridi. Nash was caught at mid-wicket for 32 to hand Mason Crane a wicket and Ross Taylor was run out by a Vince direct hit – but Sussex cantered to victory.
Archer said afterwards: “I think everyone bowled really well tonight on a challenging pitch. We all bowled as a unit. I think I was the last person to touch 90mph last week so I guess I was making up for it with the wickets tonight.
“For the rest of the season I have set my self the targets of taking 70 wickets for the whole season. I think I am now on 56 so I am hoping to continue to have a top tournament and finish it off well."
Archer has hopes of playing for the West Indies and added: "I have talked about it but no one has contacted me yet. I just want to play international cricket so I would play for whatever team.”