Three time finalists Sussex finally shook off the bridesmaid tag today with a fine win against English County Champions Lancashire in the Emirates Airline Twenty20 in Dubai.
Sussex, who also made the final in 2010 and 2011 but failed to take the trophy, played a solid game against a slick Lancashire side who had already disposed of a star studded MCC in the semi final.
Having won the toss Sussex batted first, amassing a good target of 162 with Luke Wells top scoring with 45, hitting four boundaries and two huge sixes. Andy Hodd then added to the total with 42 with 2 fours and one six before being caught by Croft. Captain Michael Yardy added 21 to the total with Ben Brown(16) and Christopher Nash(13) also hitting double figures.
Oliver Newby had a good innings with the ball for Lancashire, taking 3 wickets for 26 runs off four overs with Kyle Hogg, Tom Smith and Gary Keedy all adding a wicket to the total.
In reply Lancashire could not reproduce their winning form from earlier in the day when they disposed of a star studded MCC side to book their place in the final, managing just 105. Brown topscored with 39, including 3 sixes and 3 fours, and Jordan Clark contributed 18 but apart from a tenacious last stand from Newby scoring 11 off six balls the rest of the team failed to make double figures.
Sussex bowled well with Will Beer taking 4 for 26 off 3.5 overs, Arif taking 2 for 122 and Yardy taking 2 for 20,and with it the Man of the Match award.
“I’m thrilled we have won today, especially after making the final for the past two years”.”It’s great to take the win, the young guys did really well and we’re happy that its third time lucky for us” said Yardy.
Sussex had started the day well with a surprise win against a slick Durham outfit boasting a number of internationals. Durham had looked the goods chasing Sussex’s total of 105 until a mid order collapse saw them lose by 27 runs.
Durham had started solidly with Mustard scoring 15, Blackwell adding 13 and Ben Stokes adding a valuable 26. At 4 for 67 they looked well on target to overtake Sussex’s total. But on 73 Durham then collapsed to lose four wickets for no runs. The tail end could only add 5 more to finish with a meagre 78, putting Sussex through to the final.
Durham went on to meet Fly Emirates XI in the Plate Final where they were too good for the local champions, winning by 8 wickets. Usman Mushtaq scored an impressive 51 for Fly Emirates, and despite posting a respectable 149, Durham’s internationals rose to the occasion to atone for their loss to Sussex in the morning. Ian Blackwell was not out on 34 and Man of the Match Ben Stokes finished at 59 not out, for Durham to overtake the local champions and take the Plate.
The MCC Lancashire match featured a batting partnership by Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly which entertained and captivated the 3000 strong crowd before Ganguly was caught out for 25. This is more than likely the last time Dubai cricket fans will have the chance to see Dravid in action, and fans appreciated witnessing a legend of the game in action. Unfortunately he was not at the crease for long, bowled by Newby for only 6. Moeen Ali rallied for the MCC with 30, and the side finished with 140 runs, but Lancashire overtook this with an over and a half to spare.
To the delight of the crowd Ganguly took 2 wickets (Brown and Mahmood) for 21 off 4 overs, but it was Newby who was happiest with dismissing Dravid. "He's a fine player, but Twenty20 means you can get people out at any time. But it's always nice to get one of the world's best players out” he said.
“It’s been a great day and we’ve seen some fantastic cricket here at 7he Sevens cricket ground,” said Tournament Director Matthew Jackson. “Congratulations to Sussex who have emerged as worthy champions. This event has grown each year with many families coming out to enjoy the festive atmosphere today and we are looking forward to welcoming them and some top-class cricketers back again next year,” added Jackson.