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Sussex, with five debutants, win twice against Essex in opening round
Sussex's five debutants (from l-r): Indigo Gentry, Mary Taylor, Millie Taylor, Daisy Gibb, Emily Spooner

A Sussex side containing five senior debutants brushed off late injury drama to record seven-wicket and nine-wicket wins against Essex in the opening round of the Vitality Women’s County T20 on Sunday.

Captain Georgia Adams was forced to withdraw from the squad through injury, leading to the last-minute addition of off-spinner Beth Harvey, who had completed a 4am to 9am shift at Tesco in Bexhill on the morning of the match.

Leading the side in Georgia’s absence, Chiara Green lost the toss ahead of the first match of the day and Sussex were asked to bowl first at their home ground, Brighton Aldridge Community Academy.

Southern Vipers professional, Tara Norris struck in the third over, before debutant seamer Mary Taylor broke a burgeoning second-wicket partnership in the ninth to leave the visitors 39 for 2.

Harvey removed top-scorer Jessica Bird thanks to a Carla Rudd stumping with the score on 71 and Indigo Gentry followed up with her first senior wicket an over later to leave Essex 77 for 4 after 15.2 overs.

Norris was superb at the death on her way to figures of 2 for 10 from four overs, picking up her second wicket via the gloves of Rudd in the 17th over. Essex finished with 112 for 5 from their 20 overs.

Sussex’s opening pair of Ella McCaughan and Izzy Collis made a good start to the chase, adding 35 for the first wicket in five overs.

When McCaughan fell for six, Collis added another 30 with Rudd, who made five before being caught behind. Some tight Essex bowling saw the run rate slow thereafter, and when Collis was bowled by Emma Jones for 32 to make it 76 for 3 from 14.4 overs, Sussex still had work to do.

The experienced pair of Norris (21) and Green (20) calmly saw the home side over the line with three balls to spare, however, finding gaps, running hard and hitting any loose deliveries to the boundary.

A full scorecard with video is available here.  

A groin injury sustained in the first match ruled Green out of the afternoon fixture, with Collis taking over the captaincy and Daisy Gibb coming in for her senior debut.

Essex once again won the toss and elected to bat, a decision they soon regretted after Norris struck twice in two balls in her second over.

Gentry reduced Essex to 22 for 3 in the next over, before Essex threatened to rally with a 33-run fourth-wicket stand.

That was ended, however, by Harvey who trapped Katherine Speed in front for ten and initiated a dramatic collapse.

Essex lost their last six wickets for just 13 runs, with the left-arm wrist spin of Millie Taylor (2 for 6 off 3 overs) and right-arm seam of Daisy Gibb (3 for 4 off 1.5 overs) making light work of the lower order.

A 49-run opening partnership between McCaughan (27*) and Collis broke the back of the chase and, when Collis was dismissed for a 22-ball 28 in the seventh over, it was left to McCaughan and Rudd (6*) to complete a comfortable victory for Sussex with nearly 12 overs to spare.

A full scorecard with video is available here.

Sussex were one of three teams in the South East group, alongside Kent and Middlesex, to win both their opening matches and take eight points from the first weekend. The table is available here.

Sussex’s next opponents in the Vitality Women’s County T20 are Hampshire, who visit Brighton Aldridge Community Academy on Monday 3rd May after losing their opening two fixtures against Middlesex.

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