Rampant Unicorns shock Sussex
The Unicorns stunned Sussex by making the highest score by any side batting second in the history of 40-over cricket to beat last year's champions by six wickets at Arundel.
Former Somerset all-rounder Wes Durston led the pursuit of 326 with 117 off 68 balls as the Unicorns, a side made up of players without first-class contracts, got home with three balls to spare.
On a flat pitch, Durston hit 13 fours and five sixes and figured in a match-winning third-wicket stand of 165 in just 18 overs with Josh Knappett, who anchored the run-chase with 90 off 84 balls.
Durston was caught behind off Yasir Arafat and the Pakistan quick bowler yorked Knappett in the penultimate over when eight runs were needed off eight balls.
With James Kirtley nursing a sore shoulder, Luke Wright had to bowl the final over but Sean Park inside-edged his third ball to the boundary and the Unicorns could celebrate back-to-back wins in Group A following last week’s success over Glamorgan.
It was a nightmare return to county action for Sussex skipper Michael Yardy and Wright after they had helped England win the World Twenty20 a week ago.
Yardy did take the wicket of Jackson Thompson with his fifth ball but his decision to keep himself on at the start of the Unicorns’ four-over batting powerplay backfired when he was hit for 18.
Yardy made seven bowling changes between the 20th and 27th overs but Durston, whose previous highest score in List A cricket was an unbeaten 62 four years ago, was enjoying himself and he went to his hundred in magnificent style with a third successive six off off-spinner Chris Nash.
All this came after Sussex had piled up 325 for four, their highest score in 40-over cricket.
Wright, who came in after Nash and Ed Joyce had put on 89 in 14 overs for the first wicket, cleared the rope three times in his favourite areas on the leg side on his way to 38 off 27 balls before he top-edged looking to clear midwicket again and was well caught by the diving Neil Hancock as he ran in from the boundary.
Yardy was strangled down the leg side after contributing 36 to a stand of 95 from 69 balls with Murray Goodwin, who held the second half of the innings together with an unbeaten 92 from just 59 deliveries with 11 fours and two sixes.
Goodwin found a willing ally at the end in Joe Gatting, who made his highest score of the season in any competition with a 29-ball unbeaten 55, including seven fours and a six.
Sussex scored 180 of their runs in boundaries but the Unicorns’ cause was not helped when former Warwickshire seamer Tom Mees had to be taken out of the attack after bowling 3.5 overs having been warned three times by umpire David Millns for running on the pitch.
Chris Brown, who bowled Nash round his legs - the opener made 53 from 41 balls - also held a juggling return catch to dismiss Joyce while Durston had the satisfaction of removing Wright.
They kept a check on the scoring rate until the last five overs, which yieded 74 runs as Goodwin and Gatting punished a tiring attack.
It should have been defendable but Sussex’s attack was taken apart with only Monty Panesar conceding less than seven runs an over.