Archer overshadowed Vernon Philander’s Sussex debut on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Kent. While Philander went wicketless, Archer produced career-best figures of seven for 67. He’s probably already forgotten that he bowled two batsmen who did not offer a stroke.
Kent’s innings was transformed by a century partnership from just 114 deliveries between Darren Stevens, their Peter Pan all-rounder, and Wayne Parnell.
That did not look likely when Kent lost four wickets for 36 runs in seven overs as they slumped to 152 for six against an impressive pace attack on a lively pitch.
Kent elected to bat on a cold, sunny morning at Hove and at lunch might have been on top with some determined batting.
But they gifted Sussex two wickets in the opening session and the home team, with a number of players absent injured, were grateful for the presents.
Archer broke through with the score on 27 in the 12th over, when Daniel Bell-Drummond shouldered arms and was bowled, middle stump, for 13.
Joe Denly passed 9,000 first class runs on his way to 24 but he too played no stroke and was bowled by Ajmal Shahzad to make it 62 for two in the 25th over. Kent rebuilt with a patient partnership between Sam Northeast and Sean Dickson, who took the score to 116 for two before a batting collapse looked likely to present Sussex with a decisive advantage.
Northeast toe-ended an attempted pull against Ajmal Shahzad – who bowled impressively to take Will Gidman, fourth out at 141, went in similar fashion, mistiming his pull and scooping the ball to Luke Wright at mid-on. Dickson was then caught behind, playing forward to Archer, who then bowled Adam Rouse first ball, the third Kent batsman to give his wicket away without playing a shot.
That brought together Stevens, 41, and playing possibly his last season, and the South African Parnell, and they produced the best batting of the day. Stevens was the more aggressive, striking 11 fours and a six in his 68 before he was caught down the leg-side off Shahzad after Sussex had taken the new ball.
Stevens was seventh out at 275, but Parnell went on to score an unbeaten 51 from 90 balls, with eight fours, before Archer swept away the tail.
But there was no luck for Philander, the most high-profile of the four Sussex debutants, along with Laurie Evans, Stiaan van Zyl and Delray Rawlins. He bowled 17 overs without taking a wicket.
Sussex batted six overs at the end of the day and lost the wicket of Chris Nash, who was lbw to Matt Coles for five.
Star man Jofra Archer was impressed with his display: “That was the best I’ve bowled in red ball for a very long time. There was a bit in the pitch, which is always encouraging for fast bowlers, and we’ve got a lot of them, up and coming, and we bowled very well as a group today.
“Vernon bowled really well without getting the rewards. He told me ‘well bowled.’ We had a brief chat about bowling and hopefully I can get some more tips from him before he leaves.”