By Matt Somerford
Luke Wright’s stunning century against Hampshire last night might not have snatched away a dramatic Sussex Sharks win, but it re-confirmed why he is so well regarded around the world.
Wright has built his reputation as a sprint format expert around the globe and in the winter, after helping the Melbourne Stars complete an unbeaten group stage campaign, was voted second in the Big Bash League’s player-of-the-tournament award.
The 29-year-old has not quite had the same impact on this year’s NatWest T20 Blast – as the Sharks have fallen below expectation to miss out on the quarter-finals – as Wright has been prevented from bowling by injury.
And while his batting has not always been consistent, such is Wright’s run-scoring knack that he is still the competition’s fourth-highest runscorer as the group stage winds down.
The England man’s 17 sixes also place him second only to this season’s stand-out hitter Jason Roy from Surrey.
Wright has rocketed up the charts in the past week as he followed a 66 in the home win over Glamorgan with his brilliant unbeaten 116 from 66 balls at the Ageas Bowl on Friday night as he almost single-handedly denied Hampshire.
Hampshire were chasing a win to confirm a sixth successive quarter-finals appearance and had their hearts in their mouths as Wright hit full-flow, cracking 13 fours and four sixes as his team-mates fell around him.
In the end he was left with just a little too much to do as the Sharks suffered a six-run defeat.
His 116 was the second highest individual score this season behind Dan Christian’s 129 from 57 balls – which coincidentally was also in a losing cause as Middlesex lost at Kent Spitfires in early June.
It was a night of ‘almosts’ on Friday with Lancashire narrowly failing to beat the best total of the season they themselves set against Worcestershire a couple of weeks ago.
The Lightning racked up 225 for seven against Derbyshire Falcons, on the back of half-centuries from Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown, to fall just shy of the 229 for four they hit at New Road on Andrew Flintoff's return.
The Lightning could, however, contend themselves with the knowledge that victory over the Falcons confirmed a Emirates Old Trafford quarter-final for the first time since they lost an indoor bowl-out against Somerset in 2009.