Gillespie thrilled by Sussex’s progress
Jason Gillespie praised his players after Sussex Sharks beat defending champions Essex Eagles by four wickets last weekend to reach the quarter-finals of the T20 Vitality Blast.
Gillespie said he was “incredibly pleased” after his team reached the last eight of the tournament.
After a hectic ten matches in 24 days, Delray Rawlins, the Bermuda all-rounder, and his team-mates now have a ten-day break before taking on Lancashire at home in the quarter-finals next Thursday.
Sussex restricted the Eagles to 136 for nine in their 20 overs, but had an early stumble in their run chase with Rawlins going cheaply for four as they were placed at 59 for five after just eight overs.
George Garton, who had earlier taken four for 21, shared in a sixth-wicket stand of 73 in ten overs with Calum MacLeod as Sussex fought back to win by four wickets. Garton scored 34 not out, while MacLeod added 40 and Phil Salt 42.
Paul Walter was the top batsman for the Eagles, scoring 76 from nine fours and three sixes after arriving at the crease with his side in trouble 18 for three.
“We're really pleased with the result,” Gillespie, a former Australia player, told the Sussex website. “To restrict a side like Essex to 136 was a great effort with the ball.
“All the bowlers started really well, everyone did a great job. On that surface their total was probably under par so we were very pleased at the halfway stage.
“We had a little wobble with the bat. There were some poor decision-making and we didn't always play the situation particularly well, but Calum and George did do that. They assessed where we were at and what needed to be done.
“I thought the maturity of that partnership really stood out.
“I'm incredibly pleased to come away with a win and secure a quarter-final spot.”
Captain Luke Wright was also full of praise for Garton and MacLeod for leading the run chase.
“We never make things easy for ourselves and I was just worried that the defeat that we had at Hove against Kent recently would come back and bite us,” he said.
“We made a bit harder work of it than we should have done and I thought actually we should have kept their score down more although credit to Walter who batted really well.
“Even so at the start of the match we would have taken the score that we restricted them to. But then there was some batting from our players that we wouldn't have been overly proud of, but we got over the line and that was the important thing.”
Wright added: “We're finding a way to win at the moment. We've had different people at different times performing, and today again it was George [Garton] for the second game in a row, which was magnificent to see him doing that, and Calum [MacLeod] who showed all his experience.
“We needed a performance like Calum's from the start, someone to sit in and get us over the line. As long as we weren't bowled out, I always thought we were going to win that game, but at one point it was looking like that might happen. Luckily we got the win and the lads did brilliantly to get us there.
“It's great to see George becoming the cricketer we all know he can become. It's always great to see any youngster starting to win games for us — also with the likes of Delray and [Phil] Salt — and it's a huge part of why we're in the quarter-finals.”
The other three quarter-finals on the same date will see Notts take on Leicestershire at home, Surrey host Kent, and Gloucestershire at home to Northamptonshire.
The semi-finals and final will be played two days later on October 3 at Edgbaston.