Glamorgan 294 (Meschede 87, Selman 58, Robinson 4-46, Archer 3-67, Jordan 3-82) and 126 for 6 (Robinson 3-29) lead Sussex 268 (Brown 77, Meschede 4-61) by 215 runs
Ollie Robinson had plenty to celebrate © Getty Images
Sussex268 (Brown 77, Meschede 4-61) and 211 for 9 (Nash 68, Robinson 41*, Carey 3-40) beat Glamorgan 294 (Meschede 87, Selman 58, Robinson 4-46, Archer 3-67, Jordan 3-82) and 182 (Jordan 5-46) by one wicket
“So here’s to you, Ollie Robinson, Sussex loves you more than you will know.” Yes, they will write songs about games like this; they will write songs because one or two of the daft souls had cried when Robinson hit a winning six onto the embankment at Penrhyn Avenue.
They will write songs because his innings of 41 not out in 37 balls had secured a one-wicket victory when it seemed all chance of any win had been tossed madly away into the Welsh air. Even in sedate Eastbourne they will sing until their throats are dry and their glasses need refilling. Despite the best efforts of a young Glamorgan team who had performed beyond almost everyone’s expectations, Sussex are still in the hunt for promotion. They may be dancing in the boulevards of Cuckfield tonight.
Fallibility was once part of Sussex’s charm and being reminded of it irritated their coaches beyond human endurance. Then, in the era of Peter Moores, Chris Adams and Mushtaq Ahmed, endearing weakness was replaced by a hard-nosed desire for success. Three Championships followed and supporters thought the good old days of entertaining defeats were gone with the Langridges, the Coxes and cricket at much-mourned Hastings.
Yet one only needed to be at Colwyn Bay on the final day of this game to be reassured that when Sussex cricketers glimpse their foot they can be trusted to take a bead on it. Such a summary gives not a sliver of deserved credit to Glamorgan’s players but it does convey something of the astonishment on the Penrhyn Avenue ground when Ben Brown’s team collapsed from 100 for 2 to 179 for 9, losing four wickets in as many overs just before tea.
They had only needed 209 as well. When Chris Nash and Stiaan van Zyl had been at the wicket, the job seemed straightforward, even on a pitch of variable bounce. The new ball, nipping around darkly like a spiv in wartime, had claimed the wickets of Luke Wells and Angus Robson but it had been seen off. Sussex were 100 for 2 and broad sunlit downlands beckoned. Well, not quite, m’lud.
Van Zyl was leg before on the front foot to Andrew Salter for 38. Enter Luke Wright, who rushed down the wicket to his first ball, attempted to smash it to Llanrwst and was stumped by Tom Cullen. Given Wright’s pedigree, his talent and the situation of the game, it was difficult to comprehend what notion might have flitted malevolently through his thought process. It was the most hogwhimperingly stupid piece of cricket one has seen since the old king died.
Suddenly Glamorgan’s bowlers were in the game and they did not need the invitation to be repeated. Ben Brown and Nash put on 55 for the fifth wicket but the assurance of the post-lunch hour was gone. Brown, most unusually for him, played a poor shot, pulling Lukas Carey to deep square leg where substitute fielder Zak Ringrose, a New Zealand professional who is playing his cricket for Menai Bridge CC on Anglesey, took a good low catch. A few balls previously Brown had hooked Carey into one of the gardens on Gordon Avenue. Sussex had won that over. Did he need to win it again?
Brown’s dismissal began a tumble of wickets. Two of them fell to Ruaidhri Smith, who produced the lifting delivery which Nash could only nick to Selman at slip, thus ending a fine innings of 68 which had been full of cover drives and clumps through midwicket. In between Smith’s successes, Ringrose took an even better catch at midwicket to get rid of David Wiese off Carey. Suddenly Welsh voices were raised and they echoed in the sunlit afternoon air. Tea was delayed for 15 minutes but no more wickets fell. Everyone paused, took a deep breath and agreed that they had never seen anything like it. The bars did well.
The last session of this winter-warming game brought no immediate relief for Sussex. Jofra Archer was leg before to Michael Hogan – 179 for 9 and 30 more still needed. At which point, stoutly supported by Danny Briggs, Robinson launched his counter-attack. “Be a hero” he had been told at tea, so he levied 12 runs off a Smith over, including a monstrous six over midwicket. His tactics were as justified as Wright’s had been brainless.
More solid blows followed and the knot of Sussex supporters risked hope. Some even watched the cricket. There were three fours before that final six which defeated Glamorgan. Hogan and his young team dragged themselves from the field. At least they had taken their chance to show what they could do.
And yes, all this glorious stuff took place on an outground, the class of venue some deride but which most proper cricket people treasure. Outgrounds have always been fondly regarded by followers of Sussex cricket and the county’s relationships to the sea are even deeper. So perhaps it was fitting that Colwyn Bay’s sharp light and gently salted air provided the environment for one of the county’s tensest wins in modern times. Ben Brown’s players bought their stiff drinks on this bay-framed home of cricket and reflected that their challenge for promotion was still afloat. Ollie Robinson said he knew he was going to do it and a county turned its hopeful eyes to him.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo