A century from Danni Wyatt made a dead rubber into a thrilling last game of the season, as Sussex fought back from 25-3 to beat Surrey by 3 wickets.
Chasing 218, Sussex had the worst possible start, as Beth Kerins, the pick of the Surrey bowlers today with figures of 3-33, removed both openers cheaply – Georgia Elwiss clean bowled for 6 in her first over of the day, and Georgia Adams (2) caught by Cecily Scutt at mid-off in her third. She followed this up by trapping Izzy Collis lbw for 7.
With Sussex in real trouble, Wyatt’s maturity shone through as she shared a 57-run partnership with Paige Scholfield (28) and then, crucially, remained at the crease for the remainder of Sussex’s innings, as wickets fell steadily at the other end. Even so, Wyatt retained faith in her partners, rotating the strike as Sussex picked off the required runs in ones and twos, thanks to good cameos from Hannah Phelps (19) and Ciara Green (17), always keeping the necessary run rate under 4.5 an over.
When Green fell in the 42nd over with the score on 185-7, Sussex still needed 33 runs, but with words of encouragement from Wyatt she and Tara Norris held their nerve to chase down the target with 2 overs to spare. Wyatt herself finished on 120*, the highest score in Division 1 this season.
Ultimately it was a disciplined and patient innings, compiled with only a smattering of boundaries on a slow pitch, which made it clear to all present that she is more than just a T20 specialist. Made in front of England coach Mark Robinson, it can only have enhanced her international prospects – no bad thing, with the winter squads for the tours to the Caribbean and Sri Lanka to be announced this week.
It came on the back of a solid performance from Wyatt with the ball, finishing as the most economical of the Sussex bowlers with 0-32 from her 10 overs, including a maiden. Bowling in conjunction with captain Georgia Elwiss, the pair put the brakes on Surrey openers Kirstie White and Sophie Pout (27) who had raced away at 4.5 an over in the powerplay but were subsequently restricted to just 2 an over. Wyatt herself also pulled off two run-outs throwing in from midwicket, as Surrey struggled to get much past 200 despite several dropped catches.
It was a big day, too, for Kirstie White, returning from the injury which forced her out of the KSL, yet amassing enough runs across the season (337) to finish as Division 1’s leading run-scorer. Sadly she fell just short of a century, finishing on 98* after 6 Surrey wickets fell in the last 5 overs of their innings to give Sussex maximum bonus points.
After the game Danni Wyatt told CRICKETher that batting conditions had been difficult:
“The pitch got a lot slower and lower in the second innings – you had to really watch the ball. But it was a good opportunity for me to go out there and play every ball on its merit. I’ve been having a few one to ones with Ali Maiden at Loughborough and he said the other day ‘just bat long’. Hopefully it will put me in good stead for selection for West Indies.”
She also praised the performance of the younger Sussex batsmen:
“The young girls that came in towards the end all batted really well, I’m really proud of them. I was quite calm out there and hopefully I made them calm as well. A few of the younger ones were quite nervous but I said ‘just bat, hit the bad balls, run well, it’s a very big outfield, and the runs will come’ – and they did.”