Sussex rewarded for Arundel switch
Somerset 163 for 4 (Kieswetter 70) beat Sussex 129 (Arafat 36*, Nannes 5-31) by 34 runs
Few counties risk taking T20 matches away from their home grounds these days so Sussex deserve credit for staging one at Arundel for the fourth time. They were rewarded with a crowd of approaching 5,000 - more than any of the three fixtures staged at Hove this season, and the vast majority did not seem unduly disappointed that their side was overpowered by Somerset.
On an overcast, chilly afternoon it was a different sort of audience to the Friday night crowd at headquarters. The four-packs, overbearing DJs and burger vans were replaced by chilled Chablis and duck pâté as spectators laid out their picnics on the grassy verges. The only music was an occasional tinkle from the ice-cream van.
And despite a typically sluggish Arundel pitch they were entertained too, first by Craig Kieswetter who made 70 off 49 balls to underpin Somerset's total of 163 for 4, and then by the veteran left-armer Dirk Nannes, who took four wickets in seven balls in his second spell to finish with 5 for 31. Surprisingly, given his vast experience in this format, it was only the second time he had taken five wickets in an innings.
Sussex were not sure what would be a decent score be and it made sense to bowl first. Their attack is badly missing both Chris Jordan and Mike Yardy, who spent the afternoon raffling bats as part of his benefit as he recovers from a torn bicep which will keep him out for six weeks. It was the sort of sluggish surface he would have relished and there was a depressing familiarity to much of the seam bowling, although Steffan Piolet (2 for 24) mixed up his lengths impressively.
Having plundered 56 in the Powerplay Somerset went into their shell a bit thereafter. Kieswetter hit three fours in the first six overs but only found the boundary once more until the 17th when he took Chris Liddle for successive fours. Nonetheless, he found the gaps with wristy elegance at times while Alviro Petersen made an unbeaten 29 to boost the total.
With the experience of Nannes and Alfonso Thomas to call upon, Somerset's early struggles in the tournament are a surprise. Thomas took four wickets in four balls when the sides met in the Championship last week and Luke Wright threatened retribution when he slammed his first ball for a straight six. But Thomas knocked back his middle stump when Wright aimed to deposit his third delivery over midwicket and Sussex subsided gently thereafter.
Ed Joyce played with his customary elegance and there were some futile blows from Yasir Arafat, who top scored with 36 not out, at the end when Nannes returned to devastating effect with three wickets in his final over, yorking James Anyon and Liddle to finish things off. Somerset go in search of a third straight win against Middlesex on Wednesday.
For Sussex, this was a fifth straight defeat and at the halfway stage their race in the NatWest T20 already looks run. A lengthening injury list is taking its toll too so the decision to sign Kent offspinner James Tredwell for a month to play Championship cricket looks a sound move. He will make his debut against Yorkshire at Arundel on Monday.