SUSSEX CCC have been relegated.
A 100-run defeat to champions Yorkshire confirmed they will play in the second division of the LV county championship in 2016.
Even a resilient knock by county veteran Michael Yardy in his final game for the county could not prevent them being bowled out 35 overs before the end of the day’s play and well short of the 309 they needed to win.
Now the inquests will begin into what went wrong - and how the men from Hove can bounce back next season.
Sussex looked likely to stay up going into the last round of games 16 points ahead of Hampshire. The only thing that would send them down would be a win for Hants, a defeat for Sussex... and Hants outdoing their neighbours on bonus points. As it turned out, that is exactly what happened.
Sussex went into the final day at Headingley needing one more Yorkshire wicket and they soon got it, leaving themselves needing 309 to win, or having to bat out the day for a draw to earn enough points to survive with a draw.
They were up against it from the moment Ed Joyce was bowled by Jack Brooks for one, and they soon slipped to 39 for three as Chris Jordan and Matt Machan were out, also to Brooks.
Yorkshire decided to bat on in the morning on 298 for nine and seven runs had been added when Bresnan drove the ninth ball of the day from Steve Magoffin straight to Lewis Hatchett at long on.
Sussex were quickly in dire trouble at 39 for three, all the wickets falling in a destructive opening burst from Brooks. Ed Joyce inside-edged a full toss into his stumps, Chris Jordan was lbw and Matt Machan nibbled at a rising ball and was caught behind by Jonny Bairstow.
Machan’s dismissal was Brooks’ 65th wicket of the season and the 300th of his career.
He was rested with figures of 7-1-25-3 and Bresnan took over from the Kirkstall Lane and wasted no time in making his own mark. Chris Nash was bowled through the gate with one which nipped back and Luke Wright drove loosely outside off stump and was held by Bairstow moving to his right.
For the second time in the match, Yardy came in to bat with Sussex in crisis and he was still there at lunch with Ben Brown who completed 1,000 Championship runs for the season upon reaching 12.
The sixth wicket pair went into the afternoon session with Sussex on 88 for five and for a while it appeared as if they might succeed in pulling off a rescue act.
Brown was doubly fortunate to edge consecutive balls from Liam Plunkett through a vacant third slip but Yardy cover drove him for four and leg-glanced Brooks to the boundary as the runs mounted.
But with the stand worth 81, Yardy was out and Sussex were staring into the abyss of the Second Division. He went to hook a Bresnan bouncer but it lobbed off the glove for Alex Lees to hold on at first slip.
Yardy had contributed 41 in 85 minutes from 70 balls with seven boundaries and his playing career with Sussex had come to a close. He was given a guard-of-honour by his team-mates when he led the side on to the field in the morning, was later applauded to the wicket and then given a standing ovation upon his dismissal, each Yorkshire player shaking his hand as he made his final exit.
Three overs later, Brown struck Adil Rashid off the middle of the bat for Jack Leaning to take a reflex catch at short leg and the leg-spinner then trapped Magoffin lbw.
Sussex were 151 for eight with an hour to go until tea and Ashar Zaidi smacked 47 off 40 deliveries before being lbw sweeping at Adam Lyth. Rashid brought down the curtain at 3.10pm when Chris Liddle was also lbw.
It leaves Sussex reflecting on a very disappointing campaign and needing to rebuild for a new bid for success - and for promotion from division two - next year.
They’ll play fellow relegated side Worcestershire, plus Essex, Kent, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northants, Derbyshire and Leicester.
Earlier, Hampshire clinched the victory that pout Sussex on the brink by chasing down a target of 200 in comfort.
Openers Jimmy Adams and Michael Carberry had laid the foundation for the win by putting on 89 together on the third evening, and after a watchful half hour they took their stand into three figures.
Adams moved to his 50 from 81 deliveries and Carberry followed shortly afterwards, running Stuart Broad for back-to-back boundaries to the vacant third man area to reach the milestone.
The opening stand reached 129, at which point Jake Ball struck with two wickets in as many deliveries. Adams chopped on to his stumps after making 70 and then Lions captain James Vince was cleaned up first ball by his fellow squad member.
Carberry’s half century had arrived in 110 deliveries and he made sure there was no way back into the contest for the hosts as he unleashed a flurry of shots before scampering a single to mid on to clinch the contest.
Carberry closed on 84 not out and Will Smith was unbeaten on 34 at the end.
Nottinghamshire’s defeat, their first loss in eight matches, confirmed their third-place finish in the table.
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