Monday, September 15, 2008

We won't be druv - (Part 4)

The mighty Sussex have only gone and done it again! Murray Goodwin hit a six off the last ball as Sussex secured the Pro40 Division One title after a two-wicket win over Nottinghamshire. The Zimbabwean's unbeaten 87 from 64 balls ensured Sussex edged past the hosts' 226-7 in a nail-biting finale at Trent Bridge.

Goodwin and Mohammad Sami (32) shared a stand of 99 for the eighth wicket, blasting 57 off the final five overs. It rendered Samit Patel's all-round effort of 78 and 3-36 fruitless - which was a shame!

The win was made all the more emotional for the visitors when the magnificent Chris Adams announced his retirement as their captain immediately after the match. Sussex's success was the fifth trophy Adams, who steps down at the end of the season, has helped the county win during his 11-year tenure at Hove.

"It's been a fantastic journey and it was really important for me that we won this particular trophy for the development of the club," said Adams. "That's the third different competition I've won while I've been captain here and it's a great time to bow out with that under my belt."

The two sides went into the game knowing the victors would be crowned as champions and the England all-rounder's excellent performance with both bat and ball looked to have led Nottinghamshire to the victory that would have led them, not Sussex, to the title. He struck five fours and two sixes in his 83-ball knock, with good support from Ashwell Prince (33) and Chris Read (31) - Eastbourne stalwart James Kirtley Sussex's leading wicket-taker with 3-39.

That left Sussex needing 5.66 runs per over to overhaul the target and snatch victory, and they got off to a stuttering start when big hitters Matt Prior and Luke Wright were dismissed with less than 33 on the board. However, that brought Goodwin to the crease and the batsman timed his innings to perfection, despite wickets falling all around him.

Graeme Swann and Patel bowled beautifully in tandem to seemingly swing the balance Notts' way, the former taking 3-33 off his eight overs. But Goodwin found the perfect partner at the perfect time in Sami, who betrayed his reputation as a part-time batsman with an excellent 25-ball effort that provided Murray with exactly the support he needed to see Sussex to a fabulous victory.

Needing 15 off the final over and, eventually, three to tie the match - and secure the title - off the last ball, Goodwin stepped back and hammered a half-volley over the long-on boundary for a maximum - sparking wild scenes of delight from the travelling support. Cue delirious versions of good old Sussex by the sea!

Adams intends to play as a batsman only next season with Mike Yardy set to captain Sussex.
"I felt the wind of change was blowing about six or seven weeks ago and I know it's the right time to step down.

"There are a lot of good young players coming through the system now. Mike Yardy is his own man who will bring a lot to the side and to the development of the cricket club."

Grizzly will be greatly missed as skipper but hopefully he will bat on for another season or so. Although from Yards' point of view he might fancy having the dressing room to himself but we shall see. Whatever happens Chris Adams is the most successful captain of Sussex CCC ever and that is good enough for me!

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