Thanks to some wonderful fast bowling by James Kirtley, which brought him 6 for 34 in Gloucestershire's second innings and 10 for 93 in the match, Sussex had become Second Division champions well before tea on the third day. It was an irresistible performance by a young and ebullient side, who collected £40,000 for their trouble.
They are a well-disciplined team and there is a vibrancy and a sense of direction about the club which starts with the chairman, Don Trangmar, and reaches into every corner at Hove. Sussex are still one of four counties never to have won the County Championship but who knows what this renaissance may lead to.
"Exactly a year ago we were looking at what had gone wrong after a heavy defeat against Gloucestershire at Hove," Kirtley said. "To beat the same opposition to clinch promotion is especially pleasing, and it shows how much hard work we've put in to turn things round.
"This is certainly my sweetest moment in cricket. I couldn't have asked for a better finish to a season. I'm sure at some stage it will sink in properly."
Gloucestershire, following on 156 runs behind, never made much of a fight of it. Their hopes of promotion now rest on the slender thread of Warwickshire failing to beat Derbyshire.
Tim Hancock went in the fourth over, caught behind playing forward to one from Kirtley which lifted on him. Matt Windows made his usual pugnacious start before playing back to Mark Robinson and being caught at slip. Robinson, after the best season of his long career, is now to be pensioned off as Sussex's Second XI coach.
Robin Martin-Jenkins bowled admirably on either side of lunch. Before the interval he bowled Kim Barnett and afterwards he persuaded Ian Harvey into skying a catch to square leg.
It took only 16 more overs to finish the innings off. Mark Alleyne, Martyn Ball and Roger Silence all fell to pulls, while Richard Williams steered Kirtley to gully. After battling for 53 overs, Dominic Hewson was caught at short leg and when Alastair Bressington was beaten for pace, Kirtley's wicket tally for the season stood at 75 – the highest in the country.
Sussex were left to score 18 runs. It took them three overs.
Between the innings the crowd was introduced to Paul Hutchison, Sussex's new signing from Yorkshire, and for once at the end of a season the County Ground had a smile all over its charming but somewhat weather-beaten face.Reuse content