Sussex 172 (Yardy 37, Arafat 37) beat Lancashire 157 (Cork 35*, Kirtley 5-27) by 15 runs
James Kirtley, who was not a fixture in the Sussex team at the start of the season after remodelling his action, took 5 for 27 as Sussex pulled off a thrilling 15-run win in a low-scoring C&G final at Lord's. All five of his wickets were leg-before, as he knocked the top off the Lancashire run chase and returned to mop up the tail as Dominic Cork was threatening to carry his team over the line.
The highest score of the match was the 37 made by Michael Yardy and Yasir Arafat as Sussex struggled during their turn to bat. Lancashire bowled and fielded outstandingly, with Sajid Mahmood claiming an impressive three-wicket haul, but Sussex weren't going to roll over and let Lancashire claim the trophy. When Kirtley snared the final wicket, trapping Murali Kartik in front, he fell to his knees and was swamped by his team-mates while the balcony erupted. This may not have been classic one-day cricket in favour of the batsman, but it was still a classic one-day match.
Mal Loye went first in the chase, plumb lbw to a ball that nipped back, and four runs later Nathan Astle went in very similar style as he planted his front foot and the ball angled back and would have hit middle and leg. While Lancashire could have little complaint about the first two dismissals, the third will have left them stewing. Stuart Law went to defend his first ball, getting a thick inside-edge onto his pads but Jeremy Lloyds's finger went up for a third time.
With each wicket Kirtley's celebrations became more flamboyant as he sprinted towards his team-mates, but Law was mortified, waving his bat at the umpire as he turned and trudged off. Luke Sutton survived the hat-trick ball, but Kirtley continued to extract surprising pace and carry.
In a week where most stories about cricket have not been the most pleasing for the game, Kirtley's tale is one of a player battling back from adversity. He was forced to remodel his action over the winter after he was reported and was carefully handled by Sussex at the start of the season. There was some talk that he may even struggle to resume a full career - but he couldn't have picked a better stage to banish those memories.
With Kirtley's burst leaving Lancashire 27 for 3, Mark Chilton and Sutton were forced to consolidate and boundaries were few and far between despite the fielding restrictions. When Kirtley was rested following a fine seven-over burst, Lancashire passed 50 but Luke Wright removed Sutton to swing the match again.
This left Chilton as the last recognised batsman - but not for long. He charged early at Mushtaq Ahmed, who fired the ball down the leg side, and Matt Prior pulled off a fine stumping. Mushtaq was at his probing best, giving the batsmen virtually nothing to hit, and he removed Glen Chapple, who had the ability to blast Lancashire close to their target, via a wonderfully taken catch at silly point by Richard Montgomerie. Mushtaq's spell meant that as well as losing wickets, Sussex were also stifling the batsmen and the required rate was rising.
However, Cork and Kyle Hogg played sensibly to form a stand of 58 and when Hogg was dropped by Montgomerie at mid-on, on 24, it appeared Sussex's earlier under-par showing with the bat would eventually cost them. But Montgomerie made amends an over later and Lancashire needed 43 off eight with three wickets left.
Chris Adams captained his team with courage, retaining men round the bat for Mushtaq and hold Kirtley's remaining three overs back for the very end - knowing his skiddy trajectory would cause the lower order problems. The plan worked like a dream as Tom Smith was trapped lbw, then Yasir Arafat bowled Mahmood, who wasted a chance to show calmness under pressure with an ugly heave. No one, though, was going to deny Kirtley his moment and he became only the third bowler (after Mark Ealham against Zimbabwe and Ian Harvey against Somerset) to claim five lbws in a limited-overs match.
Lancashire stood forlornly at the presentation with the realisation that the match was there for the taking as Sussex crashed to 78 for 6. The openers had gone early and Mahmood claimed the vital wicket of Adams, who had been so wound up for the match he was unable to play his natural game. Some of Sussex's running was suicidal and Carl Hopkinson was the second run out, after trying a quick single to Cork at mid-off.
However, Sussex are fighters and Yardy showed the qualities that have attracted him to the England selectors with a battling 37. His crab-like style is not pretty to watch, and this innings was certainly on the stodgy side, but it did a job for his side as Yasir Arafat used the aggressive approach in a stand of 56 for the seventh wicket. That partnership gave Sussex an outside chance. They took it.