Wright, Prior blast Sussex into semis
Sussex 211 for 1 (Wright 101*, Prior 78*) beat Kent 210 (Nash 51*) by nine wickets
An unbeaten century by Luke Wright and 78 not out from Matt Prior propelled Sussex into the Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-finals at the expense of Kent, who they drubbed by nine wickets in Canterbury. The second-wicket pair added 152 in 21.4 overs to brush the hosts aside with ten overs remaining and overhaul them in the table to secure a home tie against Hampshire in the last four.
All was not lost for Kent at the conclusion but once Warwickshire's win at Yorkshire was confirmed their chances of being the best group-stage losers disappeared. They only had themsevles to blame as, despite a tricky St Lawrence pitch, they allowed Sussex to quickly get their teeth into the pursuit of their modest total of 210 for 5.
One-day openers Wright and Chris Nash plundered 23 from the opening two overs from the Pavilion End - 13 off Matt Coles then 10 off Darren Stevens - and Sussex continued to score freely, posting 50 in 6.2 overs. The opening stand ended in the ninth over when Nash, driving on the up at Stevens, had his off stump plucked out by one that nipped down the slope and through the right-hander's gate.
England wicketkeeper Prior escaped a huge fourth-ball appeal from Stevens for leg-before, then another with his score on 16 when sweeping at James Tredwell, but he survived both courtesy of excellent decisions from umpires Richard Kettleborough and Jeremy Lloyds. The decisions proved crucial and seemingly crushed Kent's morale as Prior dug in with Wright to win the match with their sensible and unflustered second-wicket stand.
Taking the two-paced pitch fully into account, Wright coasted to a 53-ball half-century then, having played himself in, Prior accelerated with a swept six off seamer Mark Davies and a straight drive over the ropes against Tredwell to post the century stand and reach his personal 50 from 55 balls.
The duo claimed 18 off the penultimate over of the match by Coles and then Wright reached his second one-day ton of the summer with a dabbed single to backward point as Sussex made a mockery of the Spitfires total.
Kent, who started the day on top of the Group C table, batted first after winning the toss and made a sticky start on a dry, yet green-tinged pitch. They lost young opening batsman Sam Billings with only 10 on the board when he edged to Prior, fielding at slip, against CB40 debutant Steve Magoffin.
Prior's understudy behind the stumps, Ben Brown, then stood up to the wicket to claim a magnificent catch that accounted for Kent captain Rob Key, who gloved a lifter from Kirk Wernars to be caught behind with 63 on the board. Sam Northeast flicked across the line of a Will Beer top-spinner to go lbw then Kent suffered another soft dismissal when Brendan Nash called for a second run on a misfield to fine leg by Magoffin, who picked up to run out Stevens with a throw to the non-striker's end.
Alex Blake's penchant for the reverse sweep finally led to his downfall, caught at short third man, bringing Nash and Geraint Jones together for a face-saving unbroken sixth-wicket stand worth 57 in 33 balls. Jones bludgeoned three fours as well as two consecutive sixes off Michael Yardy in his cameo 37 from 18 balls, while Nash anchored the other end with an unbeaten 51 from 59 balls and with only one boundary.