Cricket: Warwickshire's steady course: Reeve's men stay on target to win the county grand slam

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Sussex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157-7

Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .161-5

Warwickshire win by five wickets

EXPECTATION was running high, of course, about as close to fever pitch as it gets here on the south coast. And why not? One- day cricket may not meet with universal approval, but when this pair last met in a limited-overs bash they brought the house down at Lord's in a record-breaking epic of a NatWest Trophy final in which Warwickshire successfully chased 322.

Come yesterday, though, and champagne gave way to beer, a near capacity crowd of Sunday League followers pouring through the gates early and in high spirits to witness an inevitably less gripping contest. Indeed, for many the tone of a blustery afternoon was set with an announcement, just 20 minutes before the start of play, that Brian Lara would not be making an appearance.

The cynically minded might have considered they had been conned after parting with good money for a glimpse of the West Indian, instead of which they had to cross his name from the published programme. But that is by the by, and Warwickshire coped well enough in the end while their superstar rested dodgy knees in preparation for the team's final drive towards an unprecedented clean sweep of honours.

Here, Warwickshire had already brushed Sussex aside in the Championship. And, having lost two of their last three League games, they remained on course at the head of the table with an 11th win, even if there was a hint of nerves along the way.

Dermot Reeve may be giving the four-dayers a miss but, having won the toss, the captain opened the bowling and helped take the impetus out of the Sussex innings by removing Keith Greenfield and Franklyn Stephenson, while his eight overs cost no more than 16 runs. Sussex then had their own leader, Alan Wells, who made a half-century and featured in a stand of 59 for the third wicket with Bill Athey, helping them past the 150 mark.

It was never going to be enough, however, even allowing for a mini- crisis when Athey took out Andy Moles and Roger Twose, and Carlos Remy bowled Paul Smith for a duck. At this point, Warwickshire were 119 for 4, but an unbeaten Sunday best of 84 from Dominic Ostler eventually saw them home with four overs to spare.