Mushtaq's star turn
Sussex clinched the Liverpool Victoria County Championship after another virtuoso display from Mushtaq Ahmed, who passed 100 wickets for the season in an innings victory over Nottinghamshire.
The Pakistani leg-spinner took two big wickets in three balls to put himself on 99 this summer - and ended up with career-best figures of 9-48 and a match haul of 13-108.
The latter statistic is also the best of Mushtaq’s illustrious Sussex career, inspiring victory by an innings and 245 runs over hapless Notts, who were bowled out for 150 to go with 165 first time round.
Mushtaq, who took 103 wickets in Sussex’s maiden title triumph in 2003, was responsible for the first six wickets to fall as Notts folded in notional pursuit of a highly remote 395 to make their opponents bat again.
It all meant Sussex wrapped up the championship for the second time in four years, leaving their nearest rivals Lancashire unable to change the situation even if rain relents in their final fixture against Hampshire at the Rose Bowl.
After bad light delayed the start by 40 minutes in the morning, David Hussey survived until Mushtaq’s third over of a cloudy day before he was bowled driving at a googly.
Samit Patel missed a slog-sweep and lost his middle and leg stumps and James Kirtley interrupted Mushtaq’s clean sweep when he pinned Paul Franks lbw with a full-length ball.
But it was Sussex’s match-winner who was nonetheless hastening his team to the title with what were to become the best figures on this ground in 70 years.
He was soon back in business, too, Ryan Sidebottom donating his wicket with an unwise and faulty sweep which left the stumps splayed again.
Next to go was Mark Ealham, lbw sweeping, leaving AJ Harris as the last to succumb to Mushtaq as Notts were bowled out in only 27.3 overs.
Notts, meanwhile, were in danger of following last year’s championship title with relegation this time round.
Should Durham manage full batting points in a drawn final match against Yorkshire at Headingley, it will be Division Two cricket for Notts next summer.