Worcestershire snatch valuable victory
Saeed Ajmal took 6-124 to bowl Worcestershire to their third LV= County Championship victory of the season at Horsham, despite a brilliant 122 by Murray Goodwin for Sussex.
Off-spinner Ajmal and seamer Alan Richardson held their nerve to dismiss Sussex for 302 just inside the final hour.
Worcestershire’s 34-run win lifts them out of the Division One relegation zone and up to seventh place, their 21-point win taking them to 102 points – four above Yorkshire with a game still in hand. Sussex remain sixth on 123 points.
Ajmal, in his last championship appearance as Worcestershire’s overseas player this season, shared the second new ball with Richardson, with Sussex at 265 for six and looking like emerging as winners themselves following a superb 151-run stand for the fifth wicket between Goodwin and Mike Yardy.
But Richardson struck the vital blow with his second delivery with the second new ball, Goodwin finally being beaten by an off-cutter to be lbw after hitting the 66th first-class century of his career.
Goodwin had faced 193 balls, hitting 14 fours, and it was his fourth century in 16 first-class innings at Horsham, where he now averages almost 75.
Richardson then ended a stubborn eighth-wicket partnership of 27 between Kirk Wernars and Wayne Parnell – in which South African fast bowler Parnell had driven Ajmal straight for six – by having Wernars well held by a diving Ben Scott as he snicked behind for 24.
Monty Panesar edged a wild drive at Ajmal to go for one, leaving Sussex 299 for nine, and the end soon came when Richardson, who finished with figures of 4-54, angled one across left-hander James Anyon to have Sussex’s last man caught at first slip by Vikram Solanki.
Worcestershire made the better start to the final day, which began with Sussex on 17 for one and needing another 320 runs for victory, by taking three wickets inside the first hour.
Ed Joyce was caught off bat and pad for 14, off Ajmal, and the spinner also ended a plucky innings of 17 by nightwatchman Will Adkin, who fell lbw missing a sweep at a quicker ball with the total at 52.
In between, Richardson was rewarded for a typically wholehearted spell from the Railway End as he swung one away just enough from left-hander Luke Wells to have him superbly caught for nine by Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell, diving to his right at second slip.
Goodwin and Yardy, however, then took Sussex to 125 for four at lunch, with Goodwin plundering three fours from one over by Gareth Andrew, who had replaced Richardson in the attack while Ajmal kept wheeling away from the Church End.
The pair continued to flourish after interval, too, with Goodwin going to 50 from 72 balls and Yardy completing his own half-century with a swept four off Ajmal, from 89 balls. Both batsmen had hit six boundaries in their fifties, and runs began to flow as Ajmal was at last rested.
At 199, though, Ajmal was recalled and although Yardy almost immediately slog-swept him for his eighth four it proved to be his last shot in anger.
On 63, having faced 120 balls, he was undone later in the same over by a ball from Ajmal which bounced and turned to take the inside edge of the bat and loop up to short leg off his pad where Alexei Kervezee leapt to hold a well-judged catch.
Ben Brown had only made 10 when he went back to a quicker ball from Ajmal and was lbw, leaving Sussex at 231 for six just before the tea interval.