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Harrison Ward
Match Report

Essex vs Sharks: Three wins on the bounce

14 Jun 2024

Essex vs Sharks: Match Report

A masterful exhibition of stunning hitting from openers Harrison Ward and Daniel Hughes gave Sussex the platform to an eight-wicket victory with 26 balls to spare against an Essex team who had axed their Vitality Blast captain Simon Harmer.

The first-wicket pair put on 99 inside eight overs – including 32 from a Daniel Sams over – as 10 sixes rained down all around the Chelmsford ground. The Australian Hughes claimed four of them in his 18-ball 47, and Ward chipped in with three in his 68 from 36.

However, it was left to John Simpson to hit Luc Benkenstein for 10 off two balls in the 16th over to complete Sussex’s fourth success in five Blast matches this season.

In turn, Essex, put in, failed to post the sort of score that might have been expected after Dean Elgar (54) anchored two fifty-run stands with stand-in captain Adam Rossington and Michael Pepper. However, when Pepper was dismissed for a 26-ball 51, it precipitated a clatter of eight Essex wickets for 54 runs in 43 balls. They finished on a decidedly below-par 178-9.

Ward and Hughes went off like trains as they hammered eight fours in 11 balls from Shane Snater and Aaron Beard. It did not stop there. After Ben Allison arrested the onslaught with just five conceded off the fourth over, Sams was dumped for 644666 in an incredible over of power hitting from Hughes. At one stage the pair had hit 50 from nine balls.

Hughes had raced to 47 when he swept Matt Critchley into deep square-leg’s hands. By the halfway point, Sussex required just 50 runs more for a facile win, but they lost Ward, caught behind off Allison, the one bright spark with the ball on a dismal evening for the home team.

However, the pre-match news that Harmer – who would have been playing his 100th T20 game for Essex – had been omitted from the team, rested or dropped depending on who you asked, was almost as seismic as the on-field carnage if not totally surprising: he had not taken a wicket in Essex’s first five Blast games and contributed just 17 runs with the bat.

Rossington helped Elgar put on 50 for the first wicket inside six overs, though the captgain’s contribution was 16 from 11 balls before he got an inside edge as he attempted to swipe Ollie Robinson out of the ground.

Elgar had survived a drop at slip by Tom Alsop on nought, but while he outscored Rossington, he was comprehensively outgunned by Pepper for the second fifty stand of the innings. Pepper hammered 40 of those runs, including four sixes to different parts of the ground off the Sussex spin pair, Danny Lamb and James Coles.

Pepper reached his half-century from 24 but two balls later he lofted Nathan McAndrew to backward square leg to precipitate the collapse. McAndrew struck again when his next delivery had a bemused Jordan Cox bowled. 

Paul Walter became a third wicket in five balls as he advanced down the wicket against Jack Carson and was stumped. Elgar reached his fifty with a straight six, but again fell almost immediately, lobbing Coles tamely to mid-on.

The earlier onslaught became a distant memory as Matt Critchley swished at Coles and was bowled, Daniel Sams departed to a catch at deep square leg, giving McAndrew (3-33) another wicket, and Luc Benkenstein attempted a reverse sweep and lost his off-stump the ball after hitting Robinson for six over midwicket. Carson took a third catch in the match, dismissing Snater at deep mid-on.

Report provided by ECB Reporters' Network

Reaction from Harrison Ward after his match-winning 68 runs from 36 deliveries 

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