Essex v Sussex, Twenty20, Chelmsford

Napier smashes Twenty20 records

The Report by Andrew McGlashan

June 24, 2008

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Essex 242 for 3 (Napier 152*) beat Sussex 114 (Middlebrook 3-13, Chambers 3-31) by 128 runs

Graham Napier launches one of his 16 sixes during an awesome display © Warren Page
Graham Napier rewrote the Twenty20 record books with a breathtaking assault against Sussex at Chelmsford. He smashed an incredible 152 for 58 balls, the highest score in English Twenty20 which included a record 16 sixes, as Essex piled up 242 for 3.

Chelmsford is one of the smaller county grounds, and the boundaries had been brought in further, but regardless of those factors it was a stunning display from Napier who has previously been languishing down the lower order. However, he told Essex coach Paul Grayson that he felt good after a morning net so, following some team discussion, he was given a crack at No. 3. He will be there for a while now.

"It was awesome, fantastic," he told Sky Sports moments after hitting his final six. "I just started to see the ball better, middle one or two and then got into a rhythm."

Wherever the Sussex attack bowled, Napier launched them over the stands and out of the ground. Some balls went into the river, others in the nearby gardens and a few towards the flats. Some hits were so huge they would have been six on the biggest grounds in the world.

What made Napier's display even better was that he actually took time to play himself in as Essex pottered through the opening six overs. But once he'd middled a few to the short straight boundaries he was unstoppable. There was a cleanness to his striking that was wonderful to watch, the constant crunch of the ball off the middle of his heavy bat resonating around the ground.

The century came off 44 balls, but he was still finding top gear as his remaining 52 took 14 deliveries, many of which ended in the crowd. Napier's 16 sixes broke Brendon McCullum's record that was set during his 158 in the opening IPL match. Although Napier didn't quite have enough time to break McCullum's score, he comfortably went past Cameron White's 141 for Somerset which was the previous best in the Twenty20 Cup. James Kirtley went for 67 off his four overs, with Napier taking 30 from his final over - the last of the innings.

However, that wasn't the end of Napier's work for the evening as he came out 15 minutes later and took the new ball. Living up to his feats with the bat was always going to be tough, but it barely mattered that his two overs cost 20. Sussex had no choice but to swing hard and quickly came unstuck.

Maurice Chambers, who continues to build up his pace after overcoming a stress fracture of the back, impressed with three wickets which included Matt Prior and Murray Goodwin in successive balls. Sussex's defeat ends their slim hopes of making the quarter-finals, while Essex have crucial home-and-away ties against Hampshire to come.

But the evening was about just one person. For anyone at the ground or watching the match on television, Napier's innings will live long in the memory.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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