Sussex Sharks have confirmed their place in the Friends Provident t20 quarter-finals and whilst a victory over Essex Eagles at Hove on Friday will seal a home tie, they will also welcome back two of their England stars who have been on one-day international duty.
Skipper Michael Yardy and Luke Wright have been an integral part of England’s recent ODI squad for the series’ against Australia and Bangladesh, and Sussex will be hoping they can bring the confidence from England’s recent good form back to Hove as they look to push on for a home quarter-final tie. They rejoin the squad on the back of two series wins following a huge victory over Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Monday.
Sussex were well beaten on Sunday at Arundel by eight wickets, as Surrey Lions were indebted to former Hove recruit Rory Hamilton-Brown who hit 87 from 66 balls. Results elsewhere though meant the Sharks, who are still top of the South Group from Somerset on virtue of net run-rate, qualified for the quarter-finals.
They have only two games left in the group stages of the competition; the home clash with the Eagles before a trip to the Rose Bowl to face Hampshire Royals, and Sussex will be hoping to make the journey west on the A27 and M27 again next month when FPt20 Finals Day takes place at the same venue, if they are victorious in their quarter-final.
Dwayne Smith won’t be available for the quarter-finals later in the month so the return of the England duo is a timely boost, as the all-rounder returns to the West Indies next Monday for their own domestic Twenty20 tournament. Smith would return for Finals Day if the Sharks were to make it through.
Friday’s clash with the Eagles, who can boast stars such as Ravi Bopara, Alastair Cook, Scott Styris and James Foster amongst their ranks, is set to be an action-packed affair as they are currently third in the table, and also looking at challenging in the quarter-finals.
Tickets are currently still available by visiting www.sussexcricket.co.uk or by calling 0844 264 0206 but hurry, it looks as though this huge match could be a sell-out!