Sussex Sharks got their CB40 campaign off to a flying start with a 144-run victory over the Unicorns at Hove.
The Sharks won the toss and elected to bat in the sunshine. Matt Machan came into the line-up for his first full first-team action of the summer along with Chris Liddle, who took 20 wickets in the tournament last term.
Chris Nash and Ed Joyce opened the batting, the former attempting to get the innings off to a flyer by cutting Warren Lee for four with the first ball of the day. He reached a breezy 25 from 24 balls when a smart piece of fielding from James Ord saw him run out.
Machan also looked to set the attacking tone and got off the mark by lofting Lee into the South Stand for six. He soon overtook Joyce’s score with a series of boundaries and in only his third List A match of his career, his superb knock of an unbeaten 126 was the performance of the day, even outshining an excellent ton from Joyce.
The Irishman needed only 94 balls to bring up three figures, punishing a lacklustre attack and even his lofted shot towards the Spen Cama Pavilion looked as though it may carry over for six until Lee took the catch, checking the boundary over his shoulder.
Machan brought up his century from only 84 balls and his power hitting was impressive and assured. He hit 9 fours and 4 sixes in his maiden first-team century, although he did make 99 against Oxford MCCU last season, still his highest first-class score.
A swift 29 from Murray Goodwin, before he was bowled by Lee, supported Machan who hit through the final overs with ease and Sussex amassed 291 for 3 from their 40 overs.
And the Sharks didn’t have to wait long until they were among the Unicorns top order. Former Sussex man Michael Thornely was the first to go, feathering one behind to Ben Brown off the bowling of Naveed Arif Gondal, before the visitors were reduced to 7 for 2 when Michael Yardy sneaked a ball through the gate to dislodge Ord’s bails.
A dart from Yardy accounted for James Campbell lbw and spin also did the trick for Tom New, who did play some nice looking shots until Monty Panesar encouraged him another to nick one behind to Brown.
Skipper Keith Parsons, formerly of Somerset, also showed resolve until Chris Liddle steamed in to make a mess of the stumps after a big swing. Huge confusion resulted in Glen Querl being run out before Nash struck twice in one over with his off-spin, tempting Luis Reece into a big shot which could only find Gondal, and then enticing Lee down the track who was stumped by Brown.
Nash picked up his third wicket when Wheeldon skied one to Naveed but there was no further departures and the Unicorns ended the day on 147 for 9 with Sussex winning by 144 runs.
So a solid start to the CB40 for Sussex in a match that will be remembered for stunning centuries from both Machan and Joyce.
They will continue their campaign when they head to Northampton next Sunday (1.45pm start).