By Bruce Talbot
Gloucestershire improved their chances of reaching the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup after a comprehensive 116-run win over Sussex Sharks at Eastbourne.
They plundered 135 off the last ten overs and 76 from the last five to boost their total to 335 for 6 and a Sussex side missing Phil Salt, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan never really threatened despite another half-century from South African all-rounder David Wiese.
Benny Howell took a hat-trick – removing Ben Brown, Abi Sakande and Danny Briggs – to finish things off as Sussex were dismissed for 219 in 43.2 overs after losing their last five wickets for 14 runs and their net run rate also suffered.
The final round of South Group games on Tuesday will determine which sides join Hampshire in the knockout stages with Gloucestershire, Sussex and Middlesex all in contention.
Gloucestershire’s innings was transformed a sensational barrage in the closing overs from Jack Taylor, whose unbeaten 69 came off just 26 balls and included eight sixes and two fours. None of the bowlers were spared as Taylor peppered the small boundaries at the Saffrons, although he was dropped twice in the 47th over by Will Beer on 25 and Luke Wright on 35 off the luckless Mir Hamza.
The foundations had been laid by opener Miles Hammond, who quickly came to terms with a two-paced pitch and took few risks. His 95 off 105 balls contained 11 fours and two sixes and it was a surprise when he was caught trying to clear the long-off boundary in the 31st over.
Hammond had shared 110 for the first wicket with skipper Chris Dent who made 46 after being dropped by George Garton in the fifth over on nine. Sussex’s spinners Will Beer and Briggs did a good job of tying Gloucestershire down during the middle part of their innings and both finished with 2 for 51. Gareth Roderick’s first 25 runs all came in singles but when he drove Briggs to extra cover for 53 in the 44th over it was the signal for Taylor to cut loose.
On a small ground a run rate of 6.72 per over ought to have been well within their range, but Sussex’s innings never got any momentum in the face of some accurate bowling.
Luke Wright (21) and George Garton (1) fell in the power-play and Harry Finch (29) and Stiaan van Zyl (29) were unable to build on solid starts.
When Wiese, fresh from his record-breaking 171 against Hampshire on Thursday, came in during the 23rd over the required rate had climbed to 8.72 but he kept Sussex in the hunt, sharing 65 in 11 overs with Laurie Evans (44) and 56 in seven with Ben Brown.
Sussex were actually one run better off than Gloucestershire as the last ten overs began and Wiese had reached 55 from 58 balls when Jack Taylor ran in from the mid-wicket boundary to hold a diving catch off his younger brother Matt. Brown (27) was caught in the deep off Howell in the 42nd over before he finished the innings off by dismissing Abi Sakande and Danny Briggs from the first two balls of the 44th.
Sussex must now beat Glamorgan at Hove to give themselves a chance while Gloucestershire travel to Essex knowing a third successive win could enable them to squeeze into the quarter-finals.