Joyce ton keeps Sussex on track
Sussex 218 for 2 beat Worcestershire 217 for 7 by eight wickets
Ed Joyce's 89-ball century kept Sussex on course for a Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final spot with an eight-wicket win against Group A strugglers Worcestershire at New Road.
A two-month break since their last match in the competition proved to be no handicap as Sussex chalked up a fifth straight victory to edge past Middlesex at the top of the section.
Although Worcestershire's total of 217 for 7 was the best in three 40-over matches on the ground this season, it proved hopelessly inadequate when Ed Joyce and Chris Nash responded in a stand of 153. Nash was dropped at mid-on off Jack Shantry before he had reached double figures and the Royals were made to pay a high price as they slumped to a comprehensive defeat, their fifth in six completed CB40 games this summer.
Sussex's openers reached their fifties at better than a run a ball and it was almost a surprise when Nash got himself out for 61, failing to clear mid-on off Daryl Mitchell.
The next over brought another wicket with Lou Vincent bowled by Saeed Ajmal after taking two boundaries from the first three balls he faced, but Joyce carried on much as he pleased with 10 fours and a six in a clinical exhibition.
Murray Goodwin chipped in with an unbeaten 39 before a spanking off-drive took Joyce to 101 not out and won the match with more than 10 overs to spare. Worcestershire also benefited from a good start as Vikram Solanki (51) and Jack Manuel, with a competition-best 48 from 44 balls, put on 97 for the second wicket, but Sussex were able to apply the brakes thanks to their trio of slow bowlers.
Monty Panesar, Chris Nash and Michael Yardy shared four wickets in bowling 22 overs for 102 runs. Until then Worcestershire had scored freely against the seamers after losing Moeen Ali to Naved Arif in the third over of the innings.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan felt the pressure in conceding 16 runs in an over and then reacted with some petulance when umpire Jeff Evans turned down his agitated appeal for a catch behind the wicket off Manuel.
Left-hander Manuel and Solanki were both caught by Goodwin at midwicket and the batting errors continued as Alexei Kervezee and Gareth Andrew perished in their efforts to disturb Yardy's control.
Rana was easily the most expensive bowler with his eight overs costing 57 runs, but there was belated compensation when he bowled James Cameron (33) and Mitchell.