Sussex win championship
Sussex were finally able to celebrate their second successive county championship title, once Lancashire’s nail-biting run chase fell narrowly short at the Brit Oval.
The LV County Championship Division One winners were confirmed only when Lancashire’s pursuit of 489, to beat Surrey and therefore sneak the silverware, ended on 464 all out.
Sussex’s innings-and-14-run victory over Worcestershire at Hove, more than five hours earlier on the last day of the season, proved enough to retain the title by four-and-a-half points - with Durham second and Lancashire third.
Following an agonising wait for Chris Adams and the rest of his Mushtaq Ahmed-inspired team, they were cleared just after 6pm to receive the championship trophy, pennant and a cheque for £100,000.
It is Sussex’s third title in five seasons, their maiden success having come in 2003 - after more than a century of trying.
Adams went on to hail his side’s victory in “the best county championship season ever”.
Four other teams, including the red rose county, started the round of matches with a chance of lifting the trophy - something which contributed to Adams’ assessment of the season as the greatest in history.
He said: “I’m just overwhelmed. We started the day need five wickets, we got them and then we had to watch that (Lancashire).
“I’d say to Lancashire ‘you played well, you had a hard season, there’s no shame in your performance and you nearly did it’.
“They helped create the best county championship season ever. It’s the best I’ve seen, the best I’ve thought about or played in.”
Adams praised all of his team-mates but picked out former Pakistan Test star Mushtaq Ahmed for special praise.
“My team have been brilliant. They’ve been awesome on and off the field.
“The test of a true team is if you retain your trophy and we did it.
“You play 16 games of four-day cricket so the best team has to win, we proved that but only by the slimmest of margins. We got there by the skin of our teeth.
“Mushtaq takes the credit again. He’s given everything to the cause and he is an absolute legend.”
Coach Mark Robinson said: “County cricket is on the way up and Lancashire made this the greatest race ever.
“But I’m proud of the boys - it’s absolutely magnificent and we deserve this. We are going to enjoy it.”
Mushtaq was not present to join in the celebrations, with Robinson adding: “The waiting is not really his scene - but he’ll come back and have a glass of orange with us.”
On the wait, before his team’s success was confirmed, Robinson joked: “It’s death by Teletext. You’re waiting and watching, hoping for a cheer. When you hear one you think you’re there - then they score some runs.
“All the counties have all got bad luck cards we can play when we want but the championship is won over six months. If we hadn’t won it we wouldn’t have deserved it.
“We are only a small club with loyal fans and fantastic people off the pitch who work hard - and we will celebrate with everybody.”
Lancashire skipper Mark Chilton, whose side’s defeat saw them slip to third in the final standings behind Durham, said his team were “broken”.
“I’ve never seen a changing room like it in my life," he said. “I’m extremely proud of what our guys have achieved though. As captain I’m privileged to have seen the efforts they have put in.
“To get close to our target was a phenomenal effort but the lads are just broken.
“Our players have risen to an almighty challenge and to come so close is an enormous effort.
“We started to think we could do the impossible but we’re pretty crushed.