ESSEX Eagles secured a home tie in the quarter-finals of the Royal London Cup after their final Group B game against Sussex Sharks at Hove was abandoned because of rain.

Sussex, who had been put in, were 154-3 halfway through the 33rd over when rain arrived shortly after 4pm. With no sign of an improvement, umpires Nick Cook and Michael Burns called proceedings off at 7pm.

With a crucial County Championship game against Yorkshire starting on Friday, Sussex opted to field a team without a capped player led for the first time by Matt Machan.

Phil Salt, an 18-year-old opener from North Wales, made his debut to become the 29th different player used by the county this season and Salt showed some aggressive intent on a slow pitch after Sussex had been put in.

Salt struck his fourth ball from Reece Topley down the ground for four and repeated the shot in Topley’s second over before hitting the left-hander for a boundary and six over mid-wicket off successive balls in the seventh over.

Topley, though, hit back with the next delivery that Salt (22) could only guide to short fine leg he was trying to pull.



Callum Jackson in batting action for Sussex as James Foster looks on from behind the stumps. Picture: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Machan started with successive off-side fours off Topley as Sussex reached 50-1 from the first powerplay but they lost Harry Finch in the 11th over when he was turned around by Jamie Porter and lost his off stump for 21.

Machan (18) played inside the line in slow left-armer Aron Nijjar’s first over to leave Sussex 80-3 in the 18th but George Bailey, in his final game before linking up with Australia for the one-day series against England, and Callum Jackson, in only his fourth List A game, added an unbeaten 74 in 14 overs for the fourth wicket.

Bailey hit Nijjar for six and two fours in an unbeaten 48 and Jackson was undefeated on 34 when the rain came.