Sussex put in two convincing performances in the third round of the T20 Cup at Edgbaston Foundation Ground, beating both Warwickshire and Lancashire as Freya Davies took 4-8, the best ever T20 bowling performance by a Sussex player.
Meanwhile Warwickshire kept themselves in contention for the trophy by beating Lancashire, Becky Grundy taking 4-14 and Ria Fackrell top-scoring with 37.
Warwickshire v Sussex
In the first match of the day, Sussex bowled Warwickshire out for 67 to win by 42 runs, despite being a bowler short.
Sussex had racked up 109 runs in their 20 overs, making the most of the powerplay as Georgia Adams (32) and Izzy Collis (19) hit 8 boundaries between them.
Both eventually fell victim to Becky Grundy (4-10) but Sussex continued to battle hard, with Linsey Smith struggling on through injury to reach 26, Paige Scholfield doing an excellent job as her runner – a situation as unfamiliar to the players at this level as it was to us watching on from the boundary.
The injury left Smith unable to bowl, however, putting pressure on opening bowlers Freya Davies and Chiara Green to strike early.
Davies rose to the challenge, not giving an inch as her first 2-over spell yielded 2 wickets for 7 runs, including inducing a feather edge from Millie Home to Abi Freeborn behind the stumps.
Green then chipped in with 2 wickets of her own, including that of the dangerous-looking Ria Fackrell, bowled for 26.
Meanwhile captain Georgia Adams (3-9) also contributed with the ball, decimating Warwickshire’s middle order despite having barely bowled a ball all season.
It was Davies, though, who wrapped things up in the 17th over with the final 2 wickets, finishing with incredible figures of 4-8.
Sussex v Lancashire
Lancashire’s opening partnership of Eve Jones and Emma Lamb has been crucial to them this season, but after putting Lancashire in to bat it was Sussex that got the early breakthrough in the second over, as Jones was bowled by Chiara Green for 4.
This brought Danielle Collins to the crease, but she didn’t last long either – edging a rising ball from Freya Davies to Abi Freeborn behind the stumps for 8.
Emma Lamb found the boundary twice with a couple of powerful strokes before giving up her wicket in rather tame fashion on 11, dinking Beth Harvey straight to Davies at square leg, to leave Lancashire 25-3.
With Nancy Harman accounting for Kate Cross, bowled for 5, Lancashire looked in danger of disintegrating, but Ellie Threlkeld and Natalie Brown (21) restored some credibility to the scorebook with a stand of 40 before Brown hit a big hoik down to cow corner where she was well caught by Tara Norris running round from long on.
Threlkeld finished 41* as Lancashire closed on 109-6.
After her remarkable debut last weekend, young left-arm seamer Millie Hodge opened the bowling for Lancashire, going for consecutive boundaries off her first 2 balls to Georgia Adams, before Adams survived a big appeal for a stumping off the third.
At the other end, Kate Cross ran in hard to clean bowl Paige Scholfield in her first over, but by her third over was starting to leak runs as Izzy Collis paddled successive leg-side deliveries for 4.
At the halfway mark Sussex were well-placed at 67-1, with Adams on 40* and Collis on 21* – both batsmen reaping the rewards of hitting up and over the ring. The pair cruised on, Adams passing 50 in the 13th over.
Lancashire brought Kate Cross back for her final over to try to break the partnership, but it proved to be a futile last throw of the dice.
Four leg-byes off Adams’ toe in the next over from Natalie Brown brought a cry of “Unbelievable!” from the bowler which could be heard on the boundary (and we suspect well beyond!), and which rather summed things up from a Lancashire perspective. This was not a match they should have lost by 9 wickets… and they didn’t, as Adams was caught for 61 with the scores level, the match ending when Brown sent the next ball wide, to gift Sussex an 8-wicket victory and 2-from-2 for the day.
Warwickshire v Lancashire
The Warwickshire top order fought back hard in the final game of the day with their top 3 all making scores – Gwenan Davies 34, Ria Fackrell 37 and Milly Home 25 – as they beat Lancashire by 26 runs.
Chasing 126, Lancashire lost in-form Eve Jones early, run out in the 3rd over trying for a quick single by a direct hit from Georgia Davis at mid on.
Emma Lamb initially looked as if she might make the required runs on her own, as she raced to 30* after 7 overs, with her side’s total at that point 38-3.
But once again Davis proved her worth in the field, taking an excellent catch at midwicket to dismiss Lamb. Congratulating her afterwards, one spectator described it as “the catch that won the match” – it’s hard to disagree.
It was left to Becky Grundy to dismantle the Lancashire middle order, finishing with figures of 4-14 across her 4 overs; and though Nalisha Patel and Millie Hodge put on an impressive 32-run partnership for the 9th wicket and were both unbeaten at the end, they ultimately fell way short of the total.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Davies and Fackrell had set the foundation for Warwickshire up top, putting on 58 for the first wicket in the first 10 overs as they pushed hard to rotate the strike.
After Davies was caught by Kate Cross at mid on off Laura Jackson’s first ball of the innings, Fackrell and Home then rode their luck – the Lancashire fielders putting down several catches – to take the score past 100.
Lancashire pegged them back in the final few overs, taking 3 quick wickets as Kate Cross – released from England duty – finished with 1-24 and a run out to her name; but 126 looked an imposing total, and so it proved.