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September 27, 2009
Worcestershire 214 for 6 (Ali 51) beat Sussex 165 (Fisher 3-18, Batty 3-45) by 49 runs
Sussex retained their Pro40 title despite a heavy defeat against Worcestershire thanks to Durham's narrow victory over Somerset. Sussex, who had their destiny in their own hands at the start of the day, fell to a 49-run loss and were forced to endure a nervous 45 minutes as Durham edged to their target at Taunton.
Most of the players watched the big screen from the balcony, which was broadcasting footage from Taunton, and cheered each run as if it was their own. A strong contingent of Sussex supporters had also made the journey from the south coast and when Scott Borthwick hit Durham to victory celebrated loudly. "Ten trophies in nine years," they sang, in reference to Sussex's sustained success this decade, and their latest piece silverware confirmed them as the one-day team of the season. They were already Twenty20 champions and reached the final of the Friends Provident Trophy.
The Pro40 title, which was won in thrilling style last season by Murray Goodwin's last-ball six against Nottinghamshire, will also help to ease some of the pain of Championship relegation which was confirmed a few days ago.
On the field, though, they produced one of their worst one-day performances of the summer and Mark Robinson, the coach, said his players were feeling the effects of a long season. They were sloppy in the field and wayward with the ball early on as Worcestershire made a flyer through Steven Davies. Although the second 20 overs with the ball were better a target of 215 was tough on a wearing, slow pitch.
Rory Hamilton-Brown took 16 off the first over, but wickets fell steadily after he was held at mid-off. Goodwin, who was setting himself to guide another run chase, got a leading edge for 32 and Dwayne Smith tried to clear long on from just his second ball. When captain Michael Yardy was run out backing up, it was clear this wasn't going to Sussex's day in the middle and they would need help from elsewhere.
After James Kirtley top-edged a sweep to end the match - giving Ian Fisher a wicket with his final ball for Worcestershire, a feat also managed by Gareth Batty - the Sussex players stood, sat and paced nervously in the dressing room. However, shortly before 6.30 their tension was relieved and the party started. They owe a few Durham lads a drink, too.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper