Garton guides Sussex to verge of Blast last eight

George Garton had a day to remember with four wickets and a match-winning cameo of 24 from just nine balls as Sussex Sharks beat Middlesex by three wickets to keep their quarter-final hopes alive in the Vitality Blast.

Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:26 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 7:34 pm
George Garton is congratulated on one of his four wickets / Picture: Getty

Garton took four wickets for the second time in his T20 career to help restrict Middlesex to 155 for eight before making a spectacular contribution with the bat when he blasted 20 from five balls during the penultimate over from Steven Finn.

Middlesex seemed to have the game won when Sussex slumped from 70 without loss in seven overs to 121 for six with teenage leg-spinner Luke Hollman picking up 3 for 18 including Phil Salt for 56.

When Garton joined Aaron Thomason in the 17th over Sussex still needed 45 but Garton swung the game back Sussex’s way by hitting Finn for two straight sixes and two boundaries.

Although he holed out off the final ball of the 19th over, Sussex needed three to win and Thomason smashed the winning boundary off Tom Helm with four balls to spare. Victory in their final game against Essex at Chelmsford on Sunday will guarantee Sussex second place behind south group winners Surrey.

Garton said afterwards: "When I came in to bat it was a sticky situation so I tried to take the pressure off and have some fun. We knew we only needed one good over and fortunately I had a swing and it came off.

"It would have been annoying had we lost because we had got ourselves into such a good position at the start. We felt their score was a bit under-par but to be fair to Middlesex their bowlers put us under pressure in the middle overs.

"It was nice to get some wickets as well. I know what my role in the side is now which is to try and bowl aggressively in the power play and today it paid off. We probably need to get something against Essex on Sunday to finish second but we won't worry about the permutations. We will just go out there and back ourselves to win the game."

The Sharks seemed to have things under control when Salt and Wright (24) launched the chase confidently but Hollman and Nathan Sowter, who between them took 4 for 40 in eight overs, relished a pitch offering turn and bounce.

Salt made his highest score of the season, off 40 balls with eight boundaries, but he was bowled by Hollman who then picked up David Wiese and Callum MacLeod in successive balls in the 17th over before Garton came to Sussex’s rescue.

Earlier, John Simpson scored 46 for the third time in this season’s competition as he and Hollman revived Middlesex after they had struggled to 81 for 5 in the 12th over.

The sixth-wicket pair put on 64 in 39 balls after left-arm spinner Delray Rawlins has picked up three wickets including Joe Cracknell, who made 37.

A day which ended well had begun promisingly for Garton when he picked up Max Holden with the second ball of the match, holding a one-handed return catch in his follow through. Umpire Ian Gould eventually sent Holden on his way after consulting colleague Rob White.

The competition’s leading run scorer Steve Eskinazi had taken his tally to 397 with 21 when Garton had him caught on the leg-side boundary before Rawlins picked up two wickets in three balls. The impressive Cracknell, 20, was bowled through the gate and Middlesex’s experiment of promoting James Harris (5) backfired when he missed an attempted cut.

When Martin Andersson (4) was bowled through the gate in Rawlins’ third over Middlesex were in trouble but their two left-handers repaired the damage, selectively targeting the short scoreboard-side boundary and running hard.

Hollman struck Ollie Robinson for three successive boundaries in the 18th over but Garton dragged it back at the end. He took an excellent catch running in from long-on to remove Simpson and give Mitch Claydon his first T20 wicket since August 2019 before striking with successive balls in the final over. Hollman, whose runs came off 21 balls with five fours, slogged across the line and Sowter chipped a slower ball to cover. Garton finished with 4 for 27 and Rawlins a career-best 3 for 22.