Delray Rawlins sparkles as Sussex Sharks subdue Gloucestershire
Delray Rawlins enjoyed possibly his finest day as a professional cricketer to lead Sussex to a 51-run win over Gloucestershire in the Royal London One-Day Cup at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove yesterday.
The Bermuda all-rounder smashed 91 as Sussex amassed 334 for nine in their 50 overs and then claimed three for 50 — both career bests in List A cricket — as the Sharks got the better of the Gladiators at this level for the first time in five meetings.
After Sussex had been inserted at the toss, Harrison Ward (37) and Ali Orr (35) had scored at better than a run a ball in an opening stand that produced 58 in 8.1 overs before fast bowler Paul van Meekeren pegged them back with two quick wickets, as Sussex slid to 93 for three.
The momentum was regained through the in-form Tom Alsop and Cheteshwar Pujara, leading the team again in the absence of the injured Tom Haines — the pair putting on 70 in 12 overs.
But it was the impressive and deceptively quick Van Meekeren who ended the threat with a searing ball that got through Alsop after he had reached 35 from as many balls.
Coming to the wicket with Sussex reasonably well placed at 163 for four in the 29th over, Rawlins started well despite being clocked on the helmet on the first of two occasions by Van Meekeren, requiring the 24-year-old to pass a concussion protocol test.
The left-hander, who survived an easy-looking chance at long-on when 18, did not take a backward step the rest of the way and unfurled a flurry of strokes in his 62-ball knock — first in a 47-run stand with Pujara before the India star was stumped for 63, and then when adding 104 for the sixth wicket with 17-year-old Danial Ibrahim, whose 50 from 33 balls was also a List A high.
When Rawlins passed 53, brought up with a huge blow down the ground off spinner Tom Smith, he had gone past his previous best in first-class one-day cricket (List A). The arrival of Ibrahim elicited such an urgency that the century partnership took only ten overs, as Gloucestershire, by now heavily paying for the life given to Rawlins, twice put down the teenager as well.
When Rawlins finally perished in the last over attempting to bring up a maiden List A century, having smote five sixes and seven fours, the score was 330 and the damage done.
Van Meekeren, whose encounter with Rawlins was the first since playing for the Netherlands at the ICC T20 World Cup Global Qualifier in Dubai in October 2019, finished with five for 48.
If that was the last Gloucestershire thought they might see of the Bermudian’s impact, they did not allow for his electric fielding in the infield and his left-arm spin.
After England seamer Ollie Robinson and Aristides Karvelas reduced the visiting side to 37 for three, including Australian overseas player Marcus Harris for a four-ball duck, wicketkeeper James Bracey and Oliver Price consolidated and began to turn the tide in a threatening 73-run stand.
But Pujara threw the ball to the man of the hour and with his eighth offering Rawlins bowled Price for 34 going back to cut. The left-armer repeated the trick six overs later to dislodge Jack Taylor, the Gloucestershire captain, who had raced to 34 from only 24 balls, with three sixes and a four.
At 146 for five, all West Country hopes would have been on Bracey, but having continued to score at a decent clip, he fell for 87 after playing a full-blooded pull to deep mid-wicket where Orr took the catch.
Sussex held their nerve at this point, from 237 for six, and the icing was virtually applied on the cake when Rawlins returned for a third spell and had Josh Shaw leg-before in his final over.
Once Robinson wrapped up the victory with his second wicket in 8.2 uncharacteristically expensive overs, the plaudits went to the Bermudian, who was given his second standing ovation and the privilege of leading the side off the pitch.
“It’s one of the better days [as a professional] definitely,” Rawlins told The Royal Gazette. “I’ve just to keep putting in performances and try to help my team win games of cricket.”
∎ Hong Kong and Jersey took big steps towards securing the lone place in the next round of World Cup qualifying with respective victories over Kenya and Uganda at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Jersey.
Hong Kong, who leapfrogged Uganda to the top of the table, recovered from 136 for six to reach 213 for nine in their 50 overs and win by 51 runs. Host nation Jersey, meanwhile, chased down an imposing 266 for six with almost three overs to spare, winning by five wickets to move into second place.
Forebodingly for Bermuda, who were beaten by 185 runs by Italy yesterday, Hong Kong and Jersey are their next opponents on Sunday and Monday respectively.