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Sussex regain title

Caroline Atkins

Caroline Atkins finished on 57 not out as Sussex beat Kent to regain the LV= Women's County Championship title

Sussex wrested the LV= County Championship from Kent by winning their winner-takes-all tussle to leapfrog the champions into top spot on the final day of the season.

With Kent taking a slender lead into the final round of games, Sussex knew they needed to beat their rivals at Horsham to regain the crown they last held two years ago.

They did just that, cantering to a six-wicket win with more than 11 overs to spare thanks to Caroline Atkins' measured 57 not out.

Sussex captain Alexia Walker won the toss and elected to bowl first on a batsman-friendly ground where Sussex's men's team play once a season.

But ball would dominate bat on this occasion with Izi Noakes the leading light for the home side.

She ripped through the Kent top order, including England captain Charlotte Edwards, who was caught by Charlotte Burton for just seven. Walker then bowled the in-form Lydia Greenway to leave Kent in dire trouble at 26 for four.

When England off-spinner Laura Marsh combined with Caroline Atkins to dismiss Natalie Lane soon after, it seemed unlikely that Kent would make three figures.

Fortunately for the visitors, Susie Rowe knuckled down and showed why she has been included in the England squad for the first time ahead of the tour to Sri Lanka.

Rowe found a valuable ally in Emily Drumm and the pair gradually dragged their side towards respectability with a 69-run stand for the sixth wicket.

But having done the hard work to reach 122 for five, Kent capitulated and lost their remaining five wickets for just 10 runs with Rowe ninth out for 52.

For Sussex, Noakes was the pick of the attack with 4-24 from 10 overs, while part-time seamer Atkins took 2-22. Walker, Marsh and Holly Colvin finished with a wicket apiece.

Sussex did not give Kent a sniff as they made steady progress with the bat throughout their chase.

The reliable Atkins was the rock upon which Sussex built their reply, dropping anchor which allowed her team-mates to bat around her.

Atkins shared a 52-run opening partnership with Sarah Taylor, who hit three fours in her innings of 21.

Rosalie Birch and Marsh did not contribute much but as long as Atkins remained Sussex were favourites. She and Colvin took the score past the 100-mark and Atkins reached 50 soon after as Sussex closed in on victory.

Colvin perished with the winning post in sight which left Walker to crack a quickfire 15 to see her side home.