Wright makes record 153 in huge chase
Sussex 226 for 3 (Wright 153*) beat Essex 225 for 3 (Westley 109*, Ryder 75) by seven wickets
Luke Wright produced an incredible innings as he smashed an unbeaten 153 from 66 balls to lead Sussex to a seven-wicket triumph over a shell-shocked Essex side at Chelmsford.
It represented the highest score in English domestic Twenty20 cricket, eclipsing the unbeaten 152 by Graham Napier when the sides met on the same ground six years ago. Wright's astonishing effort contained 12 fours and 11 sixes, the last of which came off Napier to equal his mark, and he followed it up by pushing the allrounder for a single to set a new record.
Sussex looked down and out in the face of a daunting target of 226 when they srrived at the five-over mark with only 48 on the board and two wickets down. They lost another soon afterwards, that of Harry Finch, but then Matt Machan joined Wright in a partnership that yielded 159 runs in 12.1 overs.
Wright had a packed crowd taking evasive action as he repeatedly sent the ball into orbit, with none of Essex's six bowlers able to stem the flow of runs.
Wright's heroics came after Chris Nash was bowled by David Masters without a run on the board and Napier had breached the defences of Craig Cachopa with the total on 14.
Essex must have thought then that they were poised for an easy triumph but the brilliant Wright had other ideas. Machan was content to play the supporting role in the unbroken fourth-wicket stand, although his 41 came from only 26 balls.
It must have all left the table-topping home side wondering what they had to do to finish victorious after Tom Westley and Jesse Ryder had helped post what had appeared a winning score.
Westley struck a competition career-best 109 not out from only 58 balls after arriving when Mark Pettini was run out by Cachopa from short cover with a direct throw in the opening over. Westley was soon making the Sussex attack pay dearly for some wayward bowling as he struck five sixes and 12 fours, reaching his half-century and moving into three figures with strokes that sailed high into the packed crowd.
Earlier this month, he had struck 105 against Kent in the same competition but it was Ryder who set the tone for the onslaught. The New Zealander followed three successive fours in Matt Hobden's opening over with three sixes in the fast bowler's next as he went on to complete his half-century from just 21 deliveries.
Ryder went on to make 75 from just 37 balls which included eight fours and four sixes before he was caught on the long-on boundary off the bowling of Nash. He and Westley had put on 124 in only 11 overs as skipper Nash also used six bowlers in a vain attempt to stop the flow of runs.
Following Ryder's departure and the cheap dismissal of Ravi Bopara for 4, skipper Ryan ten Doeschate came in to smash 30 from 15 balls, 20 of them in boundaries, in an unbroken stand of 75 with Westley from 32 deliveries. That included 52 from the final three overs to set Sussex a daunting task but it was a target that they achieved with some degree of comfort as they eased home with nine balls to spare thanks to Wright's phenomenal innings.