Surrey showed they retain all their zeal for the Twenty20 Cup with a 100-run win over Sussex.
Surrey equalled the competition's biggest score as they began their defence of the Twenty20 Cup in style under the Hove floodlights last night.
With only one limited-overs win all summer, Surrey needed this success badly and had more or less settled the issue at the match's halfway point. Strong, imaginative batting down the order was the key.
The rain stayed away, though the angry clouds and cold wind must have deterred some spectators from joining a crowd of 4,200. There was an abundance of excellent strokes - some agricultural, some classical - and only the contest itself proved relatively unexciting as Sussex's brave reply petered out.
Ian Ward, facing his former Surrey colleagues, drove the first three balls for four before running himself out, and Matt Prior, during a rapid 35, continued the note of defiance by felling bowler Phil Sampson with a drive into his face without serious injury.
Sussex simply did not possess enough firepower to overhaul such a daunting target. Adam Hollioake, last season's leading Twenty20 wicket-taker, bagged four victims as nonchalantly as catching tiddlers on the sea shore.
Earlier, the left-hander Scott Newman had punished some ragged Sussex opening bowling with some lovely leg-side shots and at the halfway stage the score had reached 122, phenomenal batting even in this instant cricket.
For a while the Sussex Sharks looked as fearsome as goldfish, with James Kirtley conceding 35 runs off his opening two overs and 63 off four. In that context off-spinner Mark Davis's two for 24 was impressive work.
When Newman lobbed up a miscued pull, Alistair Brown took over with a couple of sixes into the Palmeira Avenue flats at midwicket.
Once one of the most feared one-day hitters on the circuit, Brown had been enduring a dreadful summer, but last night he caressed or belted strokes to all quarters for 45 in 25 balls until falling lbw to Davis when a truly fearsome total looked on the cards.
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