James Bracey’s career-best gives Gloucestershire lift-off
Gloucestershire 193 for 7 (Bracey 70, Finn 2-15) beat Sussex 152 for 8 (Rizwan 58, Payne 3-22) with 41 runs
Without a win in any of their previous seven all-format games this season, Gloucestershire was indebted to Bracey, who went 70 from 45 balls to help the home side reach 193 for 7 after being seeded.
England Test hopeful Bracey defied any attempt to characterize him as a red-ball cricketer par excellence, eclipsing the 64 he had scored on this ground three years earlier in a winning case against Hampshire, his highest previous T20 score. Tasked with repairing damage following the early demises of Miles Hammond and Ian Cockbain, the Bristolian took the anchor role to perfection, organizing a recovering 74 stand with foreign mercenary Phillips for the third wicket as Gloucestershire recovered from 21 for 2 .
When the hosts failed to live up to expectations on a power play that yielded just 39 runs, they made up for lost time as Bracey went from 34 balls to 50 and New Zealand international Phillips, after a cautious start, pushed himself to a brace from celebrating helped. and sixes in a candid knock of 27 of 22 deliveries.
Phillips fell for wily Sharks captain Ravi Bopara, long held by Finn in the 12th over, before Bracey went on the attack and set up a whirlwind alliance of 32 in 17 balls with Higgins for the fourth wicket. Bracey had amassed nine fours and a six when he left in the 15th over, dragging Delray Rawlins with the score at 127.
Gloucestershire’s ability to add a further 66 runs from the last five overs was due in large part to Higgins, who combined clever improvisation with brute force to loot a quartet of sixes and set up a stand of 32 for the fifth wicket in 2.5 overs with Jack Taylor, who matched him blow for blow before hoisting the returning Finn to the deep center of the wicket and leaving for 21. Of the 10 balls he encountered, the Gloucestershire captain sent three to six.
Benny Howell delivered a late lead, a Henry Crocombe failed to hit for six, then hit the resulting free hit over long-off in the penultimate over. Higgins made a final splurge by raising two more maximums at the expense of George Garton, who was unable to keep things under control in the latter.
Former England pacer Finn was by far the Sharks’ most effective bowler, sending three sparse overs with the new ball, then returning on the death row to remove the dangerous Taylor.
Wright and Rizwan gave the Sussex answer a solid foundation in an opening score of 52 in 5.5 overs, as the visitors looked to appease the seven-wicket defeat dealt by Glamorgan in Hove just 24 hours earlier. Gloucestershire bowlers held their nerves and David Payne made a breakthrough when he bowled Wright for 25 just before the end of the power play.
After that, Rizwan found a willing ally in Philippe, the second wicket pair to find the holes and run hard to bring the score to 88 for 1 halfway through. If Rizwan was willing to force the issue, Philippe proved a perfect foil, working the ball on both sides of the wicket and demonstrating a variety of shots to keep the scoreboard moving.
After posting 81 not out against Glamorgan, Rizwan effortlessly went from 34 balls to 50 as the duo continued to grow stronger. Gloucestershire deployed seven different bowlers in a fruitless attempt to break them up.
Still, Gloucestershire was able to put in some pressure, tight overs in the middle of the innings by Naseem Shah and Howell that got in the way of Rizwan’s departure, caught at Meekeren’s wicket cutting. Although the overseas stars of Sharks had added 76 in 9.2 overs, they needed a further 66 from 4.9 overs, and the odds were probably in Gloucestershire’s favor for the first time when Philippe Payne smashed Higgins at the deep end. square leg border in the 17th over.
Sussex’s job was now a tough one and Gloucestershire’s bowlers did the rest with five batsmen coming and going without hitting double digits.