Danny Briggs believes there is more to come from Sussex as they close in on the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup.
The Sharks head to the Ageas Bowl on Thursday to face leaders Hampshire fresh from a breathless one-wicket win over Essex on Tuesday which made it four wins out of five in the ultra-competitive South Group.
Briggs celebrated his 28th birthday by making a crucial 37 not out from number nine against Essex, helping last man Mir Hamza put on 24 before hitting the winning runs off the penultimate ball at Chelmsford as Sussex recovered from 98 for six to chase 284.
Before the tournament started captain Ben Brown admitted that a Sussex team with just nine wins in the 50-over competition in the past five years needed to find a way of consistently winning tight games if they were to make progress in the format.
Tuesday’s victory and their opening win over Surrey, when they chased 275 to triumph by two wickets, suggests his players have taken note.
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“We’re doing well with four wins but I still don’t think we have played our best cricket yet, Tuesday was probably a bit of a wake-up call for us,” Briggs said. “But we’ve won a couple of tight games which is always a good sign and if we can beat Hampshire then I think we’re in a strong position (to qualify).”
After facing Hampshire, Sussex wrap up their campaign with home games against Gloucestershire at Eastbourne on Sunday and Glamorgan 48 hours later at Hove. The accepted wisdom is that five wins out of eight should secure qualification so they could go through by winning one of their last three.
And if it gets down a tight finish in any of their remaining games, Sussex know that they have someone in Briggs who takes it all in his stride and that they have admirable batting depth, which was demonstrated when they recovered against Essex thanks to Briggs and half-centuries from Will Beer, who made a career-best 75, and Laurie Evans.
“Will was in and set which gave me time to settle in,” added Briggs. “I just tried to pick the balls to take on and take the game as deep as we could. (Mir) Hamza helped get me through it at the end too, he played his part too. But Laurie and Will calmly got us back in the game and we tried to win little periods of the game, their partnership won it.
“It doesn’t take much to make a team panic so you can get on top of them but we know we can play much better. That’s the exciting thing – we know we can improve but if we are winning games even when we’re not quite at our best then it’s a good sign.”
:: A full list of fixtures for the Royal London One-Day Cup can be found here. Tickets for Sussex home matches can be purchased on the county’s website via this link.