Saturday, September 22, 2007

One year on, same result!

Good old Sussex by the Sea.

Sussex won the title for the second year running, and the third time in five years, after an emphatic victory over Worcestershire at Hove.

Spinner Mushtaq Ahmed had match figures of 13-225 as the defending champions won by an innings and 14 runs.

But they then had to wait over four and a half hours to learn the outcome of Lancashire's game against Surrey before the celebrations could begin.

"I am proud of every single player," said team manager Mark Robinson.

Lancashire needed to score 489 to beat Surrey and win the title outright for the first time since 1934, and produced a magnificent effort before falling 25 runs short.

Sussex's game had finished just before lunch when Worcestershire were all out for 305 despite a stand of 117 between Moeen Ali (85) and Gareth Batty (84).

The pair added 54 to an overnight toal of 190-5, with Batty confidently hitting Mushtaq away over long-off for six as he went to a 75-ball half century.

But the Pakistani eventually made the breakthrough when Moeen missed an attempted sweep and was bowled.

Moeen's cousin Kabir was next man in and he also proved difficult to dislodge, contributing 23 to a stand with Batty before attempting an over-ambitious stroke and losing his leg stump to seamer Robin Martin-Jenkins.

Worcestershire's resistance was all but ended when Batty, having hit four sixes and nine fours, was lured down the track by Mushtaq and stumped by Andrew Hodd.

Mushtaq Ahmed had the final word in his duel with Gareth Batty

Richard Jones was next to go, caught at slip by Sussex skipper Chris Adams for two off Mushtaq, who then had Nadeem Malik taken by short leg Carl Hopkinson to finish with 7-132 and claim his 90th victim of another magnificent season.

"Mushy has the strongest mental capacity I've known a cricketer to have and he's obviously an exceptional bowler as well.

"We're very lucky to have him," Robinson told BBC 5live.

The success was especially sweet for skipper Chris Adams, who turned down the chance to become Yorkshire's director of cricket last winter in order to stay on ths south coast.

"It's been the most excruciating afternoon. Lancashire nearly did it," said Adams, after watching the end of the Red Rose county's match on TV.

But he insisted his team were worthy champions, adding: "You play 16 games of four-day cricket, the best team has to win the trophy and we proved that this year - [but] only by the slimmest of margins.

"It could have gone to five teams before this last round [of games] so credit to everyone, but I guess we were the best team - just, and only just."

The match against Worcestershire, meanwhile, was the last for Sussex batsman Richard Montgomerie, who has retired at the age of 36 after a season in which he scored eaxctly 1,000 first-class runs, including two centuries.