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Sweet taste of victory – now we kick on

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It has been a while in coming but it was nice to finally get over the line and record our first victory of the season. After five matches in the County Championship where two apparently nailed-on wins slipped through our grasp and starting off the Vitality Blast with two straight defeats by Glamorgan and Gloucestershire, it was essential that we turn it around against defending champions Kent on Sunday and look to build some momentum.

Going the distance: Tom Alsop made a match-winning 65 not out from only 30 balls to lead Sussex to their first win of the season in all forms of cricket (Photograph courtesy of Sussex County Cricket Club)

if you can get on a run of games where you’re constantly winning, it just becomes a habit. So it was nice to get a W and obviously, the T20 playing group is a bit different and probably a bit more senior than the red-ball group. The four-run win, which was more decisive than it appears with Kent needing 27 runs off the final over, definitely took a little bit of pressure off a few guys.

Beating the team that won it last year is a big positive. They beat us in the semi-finals, so it was nice to put a few things right in that regard and from what was missing from the first two games. To come away with the victory was deserved on our part.

We had quite a few individual performances that were significant, in particular match-winning knocks with the bat. Luke Wright started well and it was a shame he couldn’t go on, but then loan player Tommy Alsop came in and showed how good he was in getting 50 or 60 in no time.

We had been a bit under par at 102 for five with five overs left, but that knock of 65 not out from only 30 balls in an unbroken partnership with George Barton (12) got us to a total that we could defend.

It was a difficult wicket. It was a used wicket; it was the one that we used in the first game, but it was a bit slow. The ball just sat in the wicket, so it was sort of hard to time the ball and throw your hands through your shots, which is what you look for in a white-ball wicket if you were to say it was a good one. But Tommy came in at the end and he took the right options. People might say the bowlers didn’t bowl too well, but you still have to hit the ball. I think he went about it the right way and definitely showed how good he was.

There was a bit of a scare when I was batting and hit a firm drive back at the bowler, Matt Milnes. At first glance it looked as though it struck him in the head in his follow-through and that this could be as serious injury, but he somehow got his bowling hand up to deflect it. I got a good piece of it, probably the hardest ball I struck in my brief knock of 14, and it got back to him fairly sharp. Thankfully, he got his hand up and he was able to carry on there.

Not that it did me any favours, as he bowled me round my legs when I went too far across to work him into the on-side gaps. He was probably the pick of their bowlers at the end, even in that middle period in terms of the seamers — he seemed like the one who was the hardest to get away. Credit to him for coming back, and he got me out in the end, so I guess he was it was sort of a payback or something [laughing].

Like I said earlier, especially in white-ball cricket, momentum’s a big thing. And with Tommy Alsop there at the end with the bat, I think we carried a lot of momentum into our bowling and it definitely showed in the first two or three overs. The ball to dismiss Daniel Bell-Drummond is what I’ve been trying to do in the previous games — always keep the stumps in play and sort of get any natural variation from the wicket. It turned out to be a decent ball. I don’t think it did a great deal, but it was nice to pick up a wicket early.

Normally I would have bowled all of my four overs but captain Ravi Bopara came in the middle and he bowled that well. He picked up the two big wickets in England players Joe Denly and Sam Billings, so I think it was only right for him to carry on. Also, we had a bit of a rain delay and it was a new batter coming in, so it was the right thing for him to carry on. It’s not easy to start and with his variations and the little bit of assistance from the wicket, he would have been definitely hard work to get away at the start of your innings. Credit to him; he made the right decision in bowling himself four overs.

On another day, without rain, he probably would have had to bring himself off to break up his spell. But I was pretty happy with the win and I know the next game [against Somerset on Wednesday] is pretty important as well.

We should be welcoming our newest signing for that match, West Indies fast bowler Obed McCoy, who is just off finishing second in the Indian Premier League with Rajasthan Royals.

He is a very good signing. When you sign an overseas player, nine times out of ten, you sign what you don't have — not a missing piece, but where there might be a gap in the squad or in the XI at the time. Everyone’s seen enough of him to know that he’s a very good player and he will add a lot to the team. Hopefully he can come over here and go as well if not better than he did with Rajasthan.

It’s always nice to get someone who has been playing and has not just come from home. In T20, the intensity goes up as the tournament goes on, so to have someone who has already been playing at a very high intensity in the IPL and got into the final is a positive for us. He can just come in and hit the ground running; he doesn’t really have to feel his way in. I’m looking forward to watching him play.

Finally on the overseas front, it may be a bonus to have Afghanistan superstar Rashid Khan back in the fold should we again get to Finals Day. He missed out last year because of IPL commitments but has signed on for the last six group-stage matches, and possibly beyond!

He’s a match-winner. Whenever he gets the ball in his hand, something always happens. He’s always hunting wickets and his record speaks for itself, really. It’s been a few years now but every time he comes back, he feels right at home and adds a lot to the team — not just with the ball, but with bat and in the field, too.

It should be exciting again, as he comes in at a very nice stage; a pretty crucial stage that if you can get on a little run, you can literally go all the way. Having Finals Day at the back end of the competition this year rather than at the end of the season, it helps if you do manage to get on a run because we don't have a break in the format. So hopefully we can get on a little run and we can have him for Finals Day, which we haven’t done in the past. I’m pretty sure we’ll see a couple of match-winning performances from him.

• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published June 02, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated June 02, 2022 at 7:46 am)

Sweet taste of victory – now we kick on

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