Sussex’s T20 glory

Dwayne Smith’s flamboyant strokeplay, which resulted in three mighty sixes, powered Sussex to 172 for seven, easily the highest score of the day on a pitch that was never entirely trustworthy.

Sussex are the new Twenty20 Champions. Inspired by a blistering 59 from 26 balls by their West Indian all-rounder, Dwayne Smith, they beat Somerset by 63 runs under the lights at Edgbaston. In the end it was a rout, with Somerset losing their last six wickets for five runs.

Smith’s flamboyant strokeplay, which resulted in three mighty sixes, powered Sussex to 172 for seven, easily the highest score of the day on a pitch that was never entirely trustworthy. This total was more than enough to defeat a Somerset side who lost their way once Marcus Trescothick had been dismissed. For good measure, Smith fielded brilliantly and bowled handily as well and was deservedly given the man-of-the-match award.

Smith’s performance may have given little consolation to those seeking green shoots for English cricket, but several Sussex youngsters impressed in front of 20,000 spectators. Will Beer, despite being pummelled for 19 in his final over, impressed with his leg-breaks, which were given full scope by Michael Yardy — the Sussex captain was quicker to trust his slower bowlers than his counterparts. Moreover Rory Hamilton-Brown also excelled in all three departments, hitting crisply, catching deftly and briefly bowling pragmatically.

So Sussex, who had defeated Northamptonshire comfortably in the morning, were the team of an enjoyable day, but one which lacked one of the chief attractions of this form of the game: a nail-biting finish. All three matches were disappointingly one-sided.

Trescothick, albeit a loser, was arguably the man of the day. The county showpiece is now his grandest stage and how he adorned it. Not for long, of course, but this is Twenty20. Trescothick faced only 47 balls in his two innings but in that time he hit five majestic sixes and scored 89 runs. His first knock, 56 from 32 balls, enabled Somerset to defeat Kent easily in the second semifinal; his second, 33 from 15 balls, gave his side a chance they could not take.

The consolation for Somerset was that winning the semifinals is arguably more important than the final. The passage to India has been made. From October 8, Sussex and Somerset will be two of 12 teams in Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad for the Champions League. The prize fund for that tournament is a cool $6m. The winners at Edgbaston received a mere £42,000.

THE SCORES

Sussex 172 for seven in 20 overs (R. J. Hamilton 25, D. R. Smith 59, C. D. Nash 28, M. T. C. Waller 2-33) beat Somerset 109 in 17.2 overs (M. E. Trescothick 33, P. D. Trego 27, Yasir Arafat 2-14, R. J. Kirtley 3-9, W. A. T. Beer 2-29).

Vic Marks/© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2009