Sussex stroll to easy win

Sussex 145 for 5 beat Worcestershire 144 by five wickets

Sussex launched the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition with a five-wicket victory over Worcestershire in a successful return to New Road where they won the old Pro40 League at the end of last season.

James Kirtley removed three top-order batsmen in an over as the home side struggled to make 144 for 9 and Sussex edged home by five wickets despite a similar burst by Chris Whelan.

The Worcestershire paceman dismissed Matt Prior, Joe Gatting and Murray Goodwin in the space of five balls but the in-form Robin Martin-Jenkins, unbeaten with 35, and Andy Hood (16 not out) finished the job with 16.5 overs to spare.

New Road revisited actually delivered a better scoreline than last September when Sussex lost by 49 runs and had to wait 35 minutes before they were declared 40-over champions following Somerset's defeat by Durham. Two much-changed teams re-convened for the first weekend of county cricket's newest sponsorship.

With Michael Yardy and Luke Wright away with England, preparing for the ICC World T20 in the Caribbean, acting captain Goodwin made the right call by giving his seamers the chance to take control in helpful early-season conditions.

It took a brilliant catch by Joe Gatting, low to his left at short mid-wicket, to remove Vikram Solanki in Chad Keegan's fourth over after Worcestershire's captain had hit three fours in a confident start.

The real breakthrough for Sussex came with the more contentious of two leg-before decisions by umpire Mark Benson. Television replays suggested that Phil Jaques inside edged the ball on to his pad but the Australian was given out for 22. One wicket for Kirtley led to two more in the next five balls. Alexei Kervezee was trapped on the crease and Ben Smith carved a catch to Martin-Jenkins at third man.

From this point it was mostly toil for Worcestershire. Moeen Ali reined back after hitting an early six off Martin-Jenkins and was badly dropped by Keegan at mid-off in batting through 26 overs for 38. Ben Scott, with 22, was the main contributor as the tail scrambled what runs they could against Kirtley, who finished with four for 30, and Rana Naved. The entire innings included only 13 fours and a six.

Sussex had 13 boundaries on the board in 14 overs but they were made to pay a price. Having taken three fours in Jack Shantry's opening over, Chris Nash (33) eventually nicked the left-arm seamer to slip and Michael Thornely holed out to mid-wicket off the Zimbabwean-born James Cameron.

Prior (37) hit two sixes before a loose shot to mid-off set up Whelan's clutch of wickets, with Goodwin taken at backward point and Gatting at second slip.