Cricket: Snape shows Super spirit

Gloucestershire 241 Sussex 217 Gloucs win by 24 runs
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WHO COULD have imagined, in April, that a Gloucestershire side without Courtney Walsh and Mike Smith could reach the Benson & Hedges final, their first at Lord's since 1977? It may be a shorter route than normal this year but a team whose sum is greater than their parts deserve every credit. Yorkshire may start favourites on 1 August - which, coincidentally is celebrated as Yorkshire Day - but Surrey, beaten in the quarter-final, and Sussex fancied themselves, too.

A measured 88 from Sussex captain Chris Adams, last man out, and a brilliant 62 from Mike di Venuto, could not raise Sussex past a vulnerable 241 as Mark Alleyne's team demonstrated their resilience once again, capturing the last seven wickets for 41 runs in eight overs.They do not surrender.

Even the city and county are starting to believe in them. The Super Cup may not enthral Birmingham, which is probably one of the places that Willie Whitelaw was thinking of when he accused Harold Wilson of going round stirring up apathy, but it is big in Bristol. There were few seats vacant on a cloudless morning and if Alleyne was pleased to bat first then the word from Sussex was that they were equally happy to chase.

The happy hum from the crowd was stilled almost instantly when Jason Lewry's second ball passed Kim Barnett's forward push. On a pitch quicker than normal at Nevil Road, and a glassy outfield, the second-wicket pairing of Tim Hancock and Matt Windows took this setback in their stride.

They tore into Lewry and James Kirtley and with 64 added off 13 overs Sussex were wilting fast when Windows mistimed a drive and lobbed gently to point. Hancock lifted Umer Rashid for a straight six but was rash enough to venture against the next ball and was stumped by Shaun Humphries, described by one eminent former wicketkeeper as one of the best prospects in England.

Once Chris Adams could spread his field the Gloucestershire middle order were restricted. Alleyne needed 50 balls to score 20 and played like a man who had left his timing at the jewellers. Jack Russell, who emerged ahead of Ian Harvey, did his get-up-your-nose bit and smacked four fours but still required 42 balls to score 30. When Rob Cunliffe was run out by Mark Robinson's throw, after five runs in seven overs, the innings, at 158 for 6 off 38 overs was adrift

Or so it seemed before Harvey and the explosive Jeremy Snape began flailing away. Gloucestershire may have thought they were signing an off-spinner who could bat in Snape; instead they have an attacking late-order batsman who can bowl and his 50, off 41 balls including five boundaries, set alight the last 12 overs and won him the Gold Award.

Sussex started as disastrously, losing Rajesh Rao in the second over before Adams and Di Venuto soon had the small visiting contingent singing. Di Venuto might have been caught by Martyn Ball, at slip, when 28, off Lewis but the ball sped high to Ball's left hand.

The Tasmanian left-hander is a fine sight when in full flow and with Adams content to idle along behind, he struck 13 fours, mostly sweetly executed drives, in taking 62 off 56 balls. Alleyne, having conceded 13 in his first over, changed ends and trapped him when launching into another drive but Sussex were flying with 94 needed off 20 overs.

When Alleyne then removed Tony Cottey next ball the crowd, who had been shaken by Di Venuto's assault, recovered their spirits but Adams simply moved into the chair and conducted operations admirably until, with 66 needed off the last nine overs and Lord's in sight, Sussex fell apart.

An inexperienced late-order could not cope with the returning Lewis and Harvey. Adams must have blanched as one by one his apprentices fell in a combination of panic and inexperience. A huge six was his last gesture of defiance before being caught on the boundary.