Sussex Sharks flounder against table-topping Gloucestershire

Sussex Sharks 135 all out lost to Gloucestershire 162 for 5 by 27 runs at Hove

Glenn Phillips scored an unbeaten 94 for the second game running as Gloucestershire beat Sussex Sharks by 27 runs at Hove.

The result made it four successive wins in the Vitality Blast for the visitors who stay top of the South Group.

The 24-year-old New Zealander led a superb recovery from 35 for four at the end of the powerplay to 162 for five against the previously unbeaten Sharks.

Gloucestershire’s seamers, led by Benny Howell who took four wickets, then did their bit to ensure Phillips’ efforts did not go to waste. Only Luke Wright (33) got the measure of conditions as Sussex were dismissed for 135.

Such a scenario looked unlikely when Gloucestershire made a poor start having been put in. Ollie Robinson, making his first first-team appearance since he was banned by the ECB for posting offensive tweets, had Miles Hammond (3) caught at long on off his third ball before Howell (4) was run out by Ravi Bopara’s direct hit from extra cover.

Tymal Mills had Chris Dent (16) caught behind and James Bracey (1) taken at mid-wicket in his first over but that was the last success Sussex enjoyed until Mills, who finished with three for 20, removed skipper Jack Taylor in the final over.

Taylor helped Phillips add 124, a new Gloucestershire T20 record for any wicket against Sussex, although it wasn’t until deep in the innings before they really cut loose.

They plundered 82 runs in the final seven overs, including 25 off left-armer George Garton in his last appearance before he joins up with England’s one-day squad.

Phillips, who made an unbeaten 94 against Glamorgan on Thursday, didn’t hit his first six until the 12th over but added four more and seven boundaries, to take his competition aggregate to 266 runs while Taylor gave him excellent support with 38.

Sussex would still have fancied their chances of chasing at eight an over, but they never recovered from losing Phil Salt (11) and Travis Head (1) in David Payne’s opening burst.

Bopara (4) and David Wiese (6) also went cheaply and after skipper Luke Wright sliced a drive off Benny Howell to backward point for 33 in the ninth over, Sussex’s race was effectively run.

Howell bowled outstandingly, finishing with four for 15 as the Sharks slumped to 78 for eight before Robinson (31) and Mills (27) hit career bests at the end to provide the 2,500 crowd with some entertainment.

Mills said afterwards: “It was a disappointing loss. After winning our first three and putting in good performances, I think it showed that we hadn’t played for three games, apart from five overs against Surrey.

“But we should still have chased that total. It was a used wicket and perhaps we needed to adapt better to it.

“We’re still in a good position – it was our first defeat – and we have to roll on against Surrey on Sunday.”

Phillips said: “We are going so well at the moment as a team. Consistency is the key and hopefully we can keep it going.

“When I came in, it was a tough situation – and Jack (Taylor) and I knew we had to take it as deep as possible in our innings and try to get a competitive total.

“It was a used pitch which was quite tough to bat on and we knew that 150 would be a competitive total.

“We didn’t know if it would be enough with their hitters but we bowled unbelievably well as a unit. It was a great win for us.”

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