Kirtley inspires Sussex success
Sussex began the Clydesdale Bank 40 with a five-wicket victory over Worcestershire in a successful return to New Road, where they won the NatWest Pro40 at the end of last season.
James Kirtley removed three top-order batsmen in an over as the home side struggled to 144 for nine. Sussex triumphed by five wickets in the Group A encounter despite a similar burst by Chris Whelan.
The Worcestershire paceman dismissed Matt Prior, Joe Gatting and Murray Goodwin in the space of five balls but the in-form Robin Martin-Jenkins, unbeaten with 35, and Andrew Hodd finished the job with 16.5 overs to spare.
With Michael Yardy and Luke Wright away with England - they flew to the Caribbean today for the ICC World Twenty20 - acting captain Goodwin made the right call by giving his seamers the chance to make the most of helpful conditions.
It took a brilliant catch by Gatting, low to his left at short-midwicket, to remove Vikram Solanki in Chad Keegan’s fourth over after Worcestershire’s captain had hit three fours in a confident start.
The real breakthrough for Sussex came with the more contentious of two leg-before decisions by umpire Mark Benson. Television replays suggested Phil Jaques inside-edged the ball on to his pad but the Australia was given out for 22.
One wicket for Kirtley led to two more in the next five balls: Alexei Kervezee was trapped on the crease and Ben Smith carved a catch to Martin-Jenkins at third man.
From this point it was mostly toil for Worcestershire. Moeen Ali reined back after hitting an early six off Martin-Jenkins and was badly dropped by Keegan at mid-off to bat through 26 overs for 38.
Ben Scott, with 22, was the main contributor as the tail scrambled what runs they could against Kirtley, who finished with 4-30, and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. The entire innings included only 13 fours and one maximum.
Sussex had 13 boundaries on the board in 14 overs but they were made to pay a price.
Having taken three fours in Jack Shantry’s opening over, Chris Nash nicked the left-arm seamer to slip to depart for 33 and Michael Thornely holed out at midwicket off Zimbabwe-born James Cameron.
Prior hit two sixes in his 37 before hitting Whelan to mid-off, while Goodwin taken at backward point and Gatting at second slip off the same bowler.
However, Martin-Jenkins and Hodd, who made an unbeaten 16, saw the visitors to a comfortable win.