Goodwin takes Sussex to final and Champions League
Sussex 137 for 3 (Goodwin 80*) beat Northamptonshire 136 for 6 (Boje 34*) by seven wickets
Sussex booked their place in the Twenty20 final, and with it passage to the lucrative Champions League Twenty20 in India, with a seven-wicket victory against Northamptonshire. Murray Goodwin's masterful, unbeaten 80 completed the run-chase after a sharp and efficient display in the field from Michael Yardy's team.
Goodwin has completed many harder run-chases than this for Sussex, but few with such rewards riding on the outcome, and was in control throughout as he brought up fifty from 43 balls. His Championship form has been poor this season and he showed some emotion as he acknowledged the crowd and his team-mates. His one scare came on 74 when he could have been run out as a modicum of pressure began to tell, but a square-driven boundary left four needed from the last over. The result was more comfortable than the two-ball margin suggests.
However, despite helping his team take a step towards the potential for a huge pay-day in India, Goodwin won't be there himself as he has a 'cooling-off' period after ending his ICL ties and is ineligible until the 2010 event. Nothing is simple in the evolving Twenty20 world.
It was a disappointing performance from Northamptonshire, who arrived to Finals Day as the outsiders but had shown their capability this season in Twenty20. Unlike the other three teams on show, they didn't have the motivation of a Champions League spot to play for after ICL-related issues involving Nicky Boje and Andrew Hall which, however professional they tried to be, surely impacted on their mindset.
However, Sussex were also mighty impressive and never allowed the opposition to build any momentum in their innings with disciplined bowling and some live-wire fielding. Their 20 overs included just 11 boundaries and a solitary six with five of those fours coming in the last five overs, while overs seven to 17 included one four and the six. Northamptonshire's powerful hitters - Hall and Johan van der Wath - were left in the dug-out for too long with the pair having nine balls between them to make an impact.
Ian Harvey was the only batsman capable of forcing the pace and his brief innings was terminated by an inside edge against James Kirtley. Sussex produced two pieces of excellent fielding, firstly a direct hit from Ed Joyce from inside the circle to remove Rob White then a swift stumping from Andy Hodd to send back his opposite number, Niall O'Brien, for 24. O'Brien had shown plenty of innovation during his stay, regularly reverse-sweeping the spinners and would have escaped had Hodd not be so alert to the deflection off the thigh pad.
Spin had been introduced as soon as the fielding restrictions relaxed and the nine overs between Yardy, Will Beer and Rory-Hamilton Brown conceded 54 runs. Beer, the 20-year-old legspinner, held his nerve well as the batsmen tried to take the attack to him, and his last two overs cost eight plus the wicket of Alex Wakely. Yardy, with his round-arm slinging variety, went for less than six-an-over as Northamptonshire couldn't find the boundary.
Luke Wright provided some early impetus for the chase and while the six-over comparison was very close, (Sussex 40 for 1, against Northamptonshire's 39 for 1) Sussex always knew what they had to do. Goodwin and Rory-Hamilton Brown took them to within 16 of victory with a stand of 91 and although Hall made them work, Sussex never looked like falling short.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo