|Ground:||County Ground, Taunton|
|Scorecard:||Somerset v Sussex|
|Event:||LV County Championship 2014|
DateLine: 10th June 2014
Match Report: SOMERSET v SUSSEX, Day 3
From John Ward at Taunton
Result: Sussex (214 and 178) lost Somerset (289 and 107/4) by six wickets.
Somerset completed a handsome victory over a rather feeble-looking Sussex in three days, but the outstanding feature of the day, and the match, was the remarkable bowling performance of the 37-year-old South African, Alfonso Thomas. He broke the back of the Sussex second innings by taking four wickets in four successive deliveries, a very rare feat in first-class cricket, putting his name for ever into the record books.
The morningís play resembled a caviar sandwich: 105 minutes of solid brown bread, with a thrilling 15-minute spell in the middle. Sussex began the day at 16 for no wicket in their second innings, still 59 runs behind the Somerset first-innings score of 289. Chris Nash and James Anyon did not find the fine bowling of Thomas and Peter Trego easy to play, and struggled quite a bit early on.
After 22 minutes came the caviar. Thomas, with a bit of movement, bowled Anyon through the gate for 18, uprooting his middle stump. Rory Hamilton-Brown continued a dismal match with the bat, immediately lbw. Ed Joyce played back to the hat-trick ball, which moved away from him and took the edge of the bat on its way to the keeper. Thomas took off towards third man in jubilant celebration, and the score was now 33 for three; end of the over.
Trego now got in on the act, as Nash (12) attempted a cut, but edged the ball into the slips. Then, with the first ball of his next over, Thomas beat and bowled Matt Machan with a quick low full toss, thus achieving the rare feat of taking four wickets in four balls. This is only the 40th time this feat has been recorded in the whole history of first-class cricket; nobody has yet managed five.
Ben Brown, with no desire to create history, blocked the next delivery. The first five wickets had all fallen with the score on 33. Thomas is the first Somerset bowler to achieve the four-in-four feat for the county, although it has been done on four occasions against them, all back in its earliest days as a first-class county. Albert Trott of Middlesex was the last opponent to do it against them, back in 1907 in a match that was completed in a day.
Then it was back to bread and butter. Luke Wright was probably quite unprepared to start his innings so suddenly, but he stayed in with Brown as the pair played their way to lunch with great care. At the interval they had recovered the score to 79 for five.
The afternoon session saw Somerset working their way steadily through the Sussex batting. Wright and Brown shared the top score of 35. Brown was out when he drove a ball from Trego straight at short extra cover, while Wright dabbled outside the off stump and watched for several seconds as Marcus Trescothick in the slips juggled the ball for several seconds before eventually deciding to catch it.
Luke Wells came in with a runner, due to his strain, but made only 2 before he was out to a good diving catch by Craig Kieswetter, making the score 110 for eight wickets now. Steffan Piolet and Will Beer then put on a useful 56 for the ninth wicket before the former was caught at short leg for 30, postponing the tea interval. The last wicket did not survive long, the innings closing for 179 when George Dockrell had Beer caught at the wicket for 29.
Thomas, with five for 40 in 20 overs, was clearly the star bowler, while Trego backed him up superbly and deserved his three wickets. Somerset were left to score 104 runs to win.
Somerset began their chase at a gallop, with 27 runs coming off the first three overs, 21 of them to Johann Myburgh, who appeared to be playing one-day cricket. Such frenetic batting did not last long, however, and Magoffin soon had him spooning a catch to mid-on, for 27 off only 12 balls; 41 for one in the fifth over.
Trescothick did not survive him long, slashing a catch into the slips when he had 14. The bowler was James Anyon, who dismissed him for a pair on this ground last year. Somerset were now 42 for two. Suspicions that Somerset were taking the target rather lightly seemed to be confirmed when Alviro Petersen (0) clipped a catch to midwicket without addition to the score.
With a virtually strokeless James Hildreth at the other end, Nick Compton settled in for a while and then decided to take Beer apart, hitting him for two big sixes off successive balls over long on. When Hildreth finally decided to push along, he nibbled a catch to the keeper off Piolet for 11; 83 for four. Kieswetter came in, and with Compton, fully confident now, finished the match for Somerset in a blaze of strokeplay, taking just ten balls to score the remaining 24 runs.
Compton was 38 when Kieswetter, who hit 15 off just five balls, finished the match with a six. Victory was Somersetís, while Thomasís remarkable bowling feat overshadowed the efforts of Magoffin in a match where the batsmen generally took second place.
(Article: Copyright © 2014 John Ward)