Hamilton-Brown spins Sussex to finals day
Sussex 152 for 9 (Wright 38) beat Warwickshire 114 (Trott 56, Hamilton-Brown 4-15) by 38 runs
Rory Hamilton-Brown took 4 for 15 to spin Sussex into Twenty20 Cup finals day with an impressive 38-run win over Warwickshire under the lights at Hove. Beaten by Hampshire in the Friends Provident Trophy final on Saturday, Sussex bounced back with a terrier-like performance in the field, successfully defending 152.
Much as Kent's batsmen flattered to deceive in the day's other quarter-final against Durham at Canterbury, so did Sussex's, before their bowlers and fielders made life impossible for Warwickshire's batsmen, with only Jonathan Trott - the first-ever batsman to pass 500 runs in a Twenty20 Cup season - threatening the hosts with a 47-ball 56.
James Kirtley made the early breakthrough when Neil Carter chipped back an easy return catch, but Trott was quick to pounce on anything too full, ensuring Warwickshire's scoring rate was brisk from the outset. He received little support, initially at least, with Jim Troughton falling to Yasir Arafat and Tim Ambrose - unluckily, as it hit him on the glove - being adjudged leg-before to the impressively calm young legspinner, Will Beer.
In came Ian Westwood, and out came the shots - or rather, one shot in particular: the mow over midwicket. Beer was repeatedly wellied through the same region and Westwood was twice dropped, first by the usually brilliant Dwayne Smith close to the wicket, and in the next over by Luke Wright, diving forward and shelling a relatively straightforward chance. Westwood, however, struck a frenzied figure at the crease and offered Wright a near-identical chance at deep midwicket which was accepted comfortably. Warwickshire were 70 for 4 and the game was receding from them as quickly as the evening tide along the coast.
Hamilton-Brown was introduced and turned the game emphatically Sussex's way with two wickets in his first over, bowling Tony Frost before trapping Trott in front for 56. Warwickshire needed 61 from 32, a task too great for most tails, but particularly this one. Bowling close to 70mph, and very straight, it was no surprise that three of Hamilton-Brown's four victims were bowled, and he wrapped things up with the final wicket of Steffan Piolet with the last ball of the 19th over.
Sussex were less convincing with the bat, however. Luke Wright top scored with 38 from 31, but Sussex wasted a promising start with four run-outs in the middle-order, careering from 101 for 3 to 152 for 9. Boyd Rankin again swelled Irish pride with another highly impressive and accurate spell, also effecting the run-out of Yasir Arafat, as Warwickshire fought back gallantly.
The key innings, however, came from Chris Nash, who at No. 7 used his experience and calm opener's demeanour to crash 29 from 14 balls, the type of knock Warwickshire's lower-order desperately needed, and couldn't muster. Sussex's pain of losing to Hampshire last Saturday already seems a distant memory.
Will Luke is assistant editor of Cricinfo