Kirtley curtails Unicorns challenge
James Kirtley took four wickets in eight balls to help end a brave challenge by the Unicorns at Hove and give Sussex their second Group A win in the Clydesdale Bank 40.
The 35-year-old fast bowler did the damage in the 37th over as the Unicorns’ bid to reach a target of 256 ran out of steam.
Josh Knappett hit the first ball of the over to long-off, Wes Durston was caught behind off the fourth delivery, after making 51 from 53 balls, and Glenn Querl was yorked off the final ball.
From 207 for four, the Unicorns collapsed to 211 all out as Rana Naved-ul-Hasan picked up wickets with successive deliveries in the next over before Kirtley took his fourth in eight balls when he bowled Jahid Ahmed.
The Unicorns had made a blistering start to their run-chase thanks to former Gloucestershire left-hander Jackson Thompson, whose 43 off 32 balls included five fours and three sixes.
Even when he was run out by Rana’s direct hit from backward point, there was no loss of momentum from the Unicorns, a team made up of the best players not in the first-class game.
They were well up with an asking rate of 6.38 thanks to a stand of 53 in 9.5 overs for the third wicket between former Somerset all-rounder Durston and Michael O’Shea.
The brakes were initially applied by Monty Panesar, who had O’Shea smartly stumped by Andrew Hodd to claim his first one-day wicket for his new county, and then Chad Keegan, who bounced back after conceding 38 in his first four-over spell to pick up Chris Murtagh and then skipper Keith Parsons as the required run rate began to climb.
Earlier, the Sharks had posted 255 for six although a two-paced pitch never allowed their batsmen to play with too much freedom, especially when the ball got soft.
They got off to a brisk start as Chris Nash and Matt Prior posted 47 in the first six overs after Sussex had been put in.
But Prior was caught by wicketkeeper Knappett off a top-edged drive and Sussex never regained the momentum despite good contributions from Nash and skipper Murray Goodwin.
Nash hit eight fours and a six in his 81 off 77 balls and looked on course for his maiden one-day hundred when he was bowled round his legs by Querl.
Goodwin passed 10,000 List A runs on his way to his 63rd one-day half-century. But he fell for 56, made off 49 balls with a six and four fours, in the 36th over at the end of Sussex’s batting powerplay.
Querl was again successful, bowling the Sussex captain as he tried to flick fine to leg and the Harare-born medium-pacer was the pick of the Unicorns’ attack with 2-46 from his eight overs.
Former Warwickshire seamer Tom Mees also picked up two wickets. Having already snared Prior he returned at the end of the innings to pick up Keegan for a golden duck off a checked drive.
Hodd, Michael Thornely and Joe Gatting all got starts without pushing on with Neil Hancock picking up two wickets at the end when Rana holed out to long-on and Knappett, standing up to the medium pace, took a smart catch to remove Hodd.