Sussex lose Kirtley for vital trip to Lancashire

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The Independent Online

Sussex will be without the England fast bowler James Kirtley for their crucial County Championship First Division match with Lancashire at Old Trafford today.

Kirtley is suffering from the shin splint problem that ruled him out of the final Test against South Africa at The Oval but should return for the final game of the season against Leicestershire. Chris Adams, the Sussex captain, said: "It is a blow to us that he is not in the team, but it is a massive blow to him, too. James is missing out on a magical time for the team. He has had a great season."

Sussex need 10 points to win their first Championship title while the leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed needs one more wicket to become the first bowler since 1998 to claim 100 first-class victims.

A draw will probably suffice for Sussex but Adams will be out to win. "I like to play the game properly," he said. "We will go there and take them on and hope the better team comes out on top - because we believe that is us. A solid draw is probably enough but it will be dangerous to play for that."

The pace bowler Peter Martin is set to return for Lancashire after being rested for the win over Warwickshire. Lancashire, who trail Sussex by 34 points and second-placed Surrey by 16 points, must win to have any hope of claiming the title but must do so without James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff, who are being rested following their recent efforts for England.

Mike Watkinson, the Lancashire coach, knows that sneaking the title is a tall order. "It's a big game against Sussex," he said. "The more they win, the more difficult it is for us to catch them but we just want to play hard and finish as high as we can."