Sussex Gray-Nicholls T20 Cup Final
Horsham 161-5 (20 overs) Middleton 108-9 (overs)
Horsham won by 53 runs
At Sussex’s Hove HQ Horsham bossed the final from the off, winning a one-sided match comfortably after Tom Johnson and Will Beer had posted a rapid 90 run opening stand.
Middleton were narrowly beaten in last year’s final and, barring unforeseen misfortune, will be promoted back into the Premier League after just one year at the lower level. And, they had eliminated East Grinstead in the Quarter Final and Roffey in the semi, so they are a force to be reckoned with. But, they had no answer to Horsham’s opening salvos with both bat and ball. Horsham won the toss and Man of the Match Tom Johnson blasted a typically boisterous 32 ball 62, including 6 fours and 4 sixes and although Will Beer (26) was out without addition to the score and two further wickets fell, suddenly reducing them to 96-4 after a 200 total seemed likely, they recovered to set a demanding 162 run target thanks to a quick-fire 47 not out from Michael Thornely, taking his tally in the competition to 361, including an unbeaten century and a 98. At the half way stage Sussex’s Chris Nash, former Horsham skipper, and presenter of the awards at the final told us: “Horsham have got plenty – they’re going to win this, I’m totally confident!” When Middleton replied much depended on their captain Sean Heather – previously on Sussex’s books – the day before he had taken 3-13 and scored 88 not out in a league T20 match, but after he was bowled by George Garton for 1 the score crept to 23-3. Four players got double figure starts but, with the run rate soaring no serious challenge was mounted, Middleton finishing 53 adrift when the overs ran out. Jonny Whiting with 3-21 and Michael Munday (2-17) were Horsham’s most successful bowlers. Sean Heather said: “It was a tough ask but I thought we could do it – until Horsham bowled and fielded so well!”
This is the 35th year of the competition and Horsham have now won it a record 13 times, knocking out Ifield, Bognor, Preston Nomads and Brighton & Hove on their way to this year’s final, Horsham Captain James Johnson – who had earlier held a spectacular one-handed catch – saying: “The wicket wasn’t as easy as Tom (Johnson) made it look and I thought we scored about 20 more than par. I’m so proud to have captained such a strong Horsham team: Jofra Archer and Tom Haines are great prospects for Sussex.” Brother Tom added: “T20 is my sort of game – I just love it. Batting with Will Beer helped me to concentrate – they bowled too straight and they had to go!”
Martin Read – Sports Reporter