Faced with the prospect of scoring 300 in 49 overs when they resumed their rain-affected semi-final against Warwickshire, Sussex were never in the hunt here yesterday, losing wickets too frequently to stand a realistic chance of overhauling the home side's formidable 342 for 3.
Only if someone could have emulated Rajesh Rao's phenomenal efforts for Sussex against Derbyshire in the quarter-finals, when the 22-year-old newcomer produced a match-winning 158, were Warwickshire even remotely likely to be denied their fourth NatWest Trophy final in five years.
No such innings was forthcoming and, while Mark Newell (79) and the captain Peter Moores (45) did their utmost to take a degree of respectability back with them to Hove, the winning margin of 105 runs accurately reflected the superiority of the home side.
The left-handed batsman David Hemp deservedly collected the man of the match award for his unbeaten 111 on Wednesday, although the match-winning performance in yesterday's segment was contributed by Allan Donald, whose final delivery clattered into Moores' leg stump as Sussex capitulated to the first ball of the 54th over.
The South African pace bowler - who will give way to Brian Lara as Warwickshire's overseas player next season - hit the stumps three times on the way to figures of 5 for 37.
Kept in reserve until yesterday by the acting captain, Neil Smith, Donald began Sussex's downfall by bowling Bill Athey in the fifth over of the morning. Rested after five overs, he returned just before lunch to claim Mike Newell as his second victim and then took all three wickets to fall in an afternoon session lasting little more than 20 minutes, giving himself time to catch a flight home to South Africa last night to receive a Presidential Sports Award gold medal from Nelson Mandela.
After losing Athey, Sussexmade their task more difficult by suffering their second run-out. Mike Newell changed his mind about a run after a push to point, leaving Neil Taylor stranded half-way down the pitch as Trevor Penney's throw hit the stumps at the non-striker's end.
Taylor's departure brought in Keith Newell to join his brother, but he was bowled by the left-arm spinner Ashley Giles after the pair put on 49 in 11 overs. Vasbert Drakes, a big hitter who might have given Warwickshire cause for concern, lasted only 15 balls before he was caught at deep midwicket by Hemp off Smith's off-spin.
Moores and Mike Newell ensured that the contest would at least continue after lunch by adding 45 in eight overs but, when Donald returned, Newell stepped away to attempt a forcing stroke and was beaten for pace, Sussex's last, remote hopes disappearing with his off stump.
With neither Paul Jarvis nor Amer Khan equipped to survive for long as Donald completed his haul, Neil Smith, elevated to one-day captaincy in the absence of both the injured Tim Munton and Nick Knight, was soon enjoying his 10th success in 11 matches in that capacity. Essex will need to be on their mettle to deny Warwickshire another celebration at Lord's on 6 September.
n Robert Croft, the England and Glamorgan off-spinner, has been fined pounds 1,000 and warned as to his future conduct by his county after his confrontation with Essex's Mark Ilott during Tuesday's NatWest Trophy semi-final.
Sussex won toss
WARWICKSHIRE 342 for 3 (D L Hemp 111no, N M K Smith 72, D P Ostler 58, A J Moles 56).
(Overnight: 43 for 2)
C W J Athey b Donald 20
M Newell b Donald 79
N R Taylor run out 12
K Newell b Giles 23
V C Drakes c Hemp b Smith 15
*P Moores b Donald 45
P W Jarvis lbw b Donald 16
A A Khan c Smith b Donald 4
M A Robinson not out 3
Extras (b2, lb3, w10) 15
Total (53.1 overs) 237
Fall (cont): 3-53, 4-73, 5-122, 6-147, 7-193, 8-221, 9-233.
Bowling: Welch 10-1-45-1; Brown 8-0-29-0; Giles 12-0-70-1; Donald 10.1- 1-37-5; Small 6-0-21-0; Smith 7-0-30-1.
Umpires: J H Hampshire and K E Palmer.Reuse content