Sussex 560-5 dec Notts 165 & 150: Mushtaq takes nine to seal title for Sussex

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The Independent Online

While Lancastrian statisticians were revising their stocktake of overs lost as the rain fell at the Rose Bowl yesterday, there was little argument, given the manner of victory here, about the merit of Sussex's second County Championship in four seasons.

The success completed a domestic double, started by their win over Lancashire in last month's Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy.

It was providential, perhaps, given the weather that closed in within an hour, that it took Chris Adams and his side only until 12.30pm to complete a title-winning victory over the outgoing champions.

While there was turn in the pitch it was never spectacular, yet Mushtaq Ahmedestablished a new career highpoint on the way to a second single-season century of first-class wickets.

As Nottinghamshire surrendered meekly for 150, Mushtaq finished with 9 for 48, bettering the 9 for 93 he recorded for Multan against Peshawar in 1991, the full set denied only by Paul Franks falling lbw to James Kirtley.

It gave him 13 for the match and 102 for the season, one fewer than in helping Sussex take the title in 2003, from one match fewer.

It was the second consecutive match in which he had taken 13 wickets, and he drew on the inspiration of the first, as Sussex scraped home nervously against Kent in Canterbury two weeks ago, to build his confidence as Nottinghamshire resumed at 50 for 4 yesterday morning.

"I had a belief that I could get the 11 wickets for my hundred here," he said. "I thought that if I could get 13 against Kent, then why not? If you set yourself goals you can sometimes deliver them and I think we did that as a team this season.

"They say that God helps those who help themselves and I believe that is what has happened with Sussex this year."

The name of Mushtaq's god was invoked by Chris Adams in his victory speeches but not, he was at pains to point out, with any intention to be disrespectful. "I was not joking when I said that we should thank Allah for playing a big part in our success," he said. "We have had three Pakistani players, in Mushy, Rana Naved and Yassir Arafat who have used their belief to help them on the cricket field and at times as a team we genuinely draw on that."

But that was not to downplay the contribution of others. "People talk about the stars," Adams said. "But there was an example here, in the way that Richard Montgomerie and Michael Yardy set the game up for us of what Sussex cricket is all about - of everyone playing their part.

"Four years ago people said that Mushtaq was the reason for our success and while that is true I think that doing the double this season has proved there is more to Sussex than four-day cricket and preparing pitches to suit our leg spinner. I think it makes us the best team in county cricket.