Joyce fires Sussex to thrilling victory

Sussex 326-7 Gloucestershire 292
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The Independent Online

A glittering century by opener Ed Joyce – a career best – helped Sussex reach the final of the Friends Provident Trophy, but they had to overcome some sterling Gloucestershire resistance in a thrilling match.

Indeed for a long time, and all the while Alex Gidman was at the crease compiling the second hundred of a enthralling semi-final, it looked as if it would be the sometime one-day kings Gloucestershire who would be heading to Lord's later this month looking to regain their crown.

Even after a magnificent second-wicket stand of 155 off 25 overs between Gidman and Hamish Marshall was ended when the latter was run out, it did not look beyond the West Country side and they did not lose focus or heart.

As long as their captain Gidman was at the crease victory was a possibility. He certainly worried the hell out of Sussex as he got to three figures off 104 balls, sadly after registering his highest score in the competition, he was caught behind off the bowling Michael Yardy, his opposite number, Andy Hodd snapping up the catch.

In the next over Hodd pulled off a smart leg-side stumping to get rid of Stephen Adshead, the Gloucestershire keeper, and suddenly victory was not so much remote as out of sight. Yardy finished with four wickets.

But it could so easily have been a different outcome because of some undisciplined bowling and uncharacteristically ragged fielding by Sussex.

Wayward bowling contributed to far too many extras, while overthrows and fumbles all conspired to ensure that Gloucestershire kept abreast of the Sussex scoring rate for an uncomfortably, and unnecessarily, long time.

Earlier Sussex had created their own bit of history by amassing their highest score on this ground in the history of this competition. It was also the highest Trophy score that Gloucestershire had had to chase this summer.

Joyce's third Trophy hundred of the season saw him share in a 144-run stand with Murray Goodwin, who passed fifty for a second successive innings. Naturally, though, Joyce, being Irish, did enjoy a slice of luck, although he was on 91 at the time. He pulled a Chris Taylor full toss to the backward square leg boundary, where Vikram Banerjee palmed the ball upwards before appearing to tread on the boundary rope. The fielder quickly recovered and took the catch at the second attempt after stepping back over the rope and into the field of play.

The TV umpire saw it differently. Banerjee had taken the catch while a foot was still on the boundary rope, so instead of falling short of his hundred, Joyce's score went up by six runs. And not long afterwards he got to the mark off the 100th ball he had faced.