Kent’s second win in as many matches took them to second place in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two, just one point behind Nottinghamshire.
They beat Sussex by 226 runs at Hove on Monday, with Darren Stevens following his two fifties with bowling figures of five for 51. This was his second five-wicket haul of the season after he failed to achieve the feat once in 2016.
Kent captain Sam Northeast was full of praise for his team-mate: “We played some really good cricket last year and now we’ve gone up another notch. Darren bowled an unbelievable spell, he just keeps on doing it. He’s got fantastic skill with the ball. He set it all up. He's got a fantastic wrist. He can nip it both ways holding the seam up. He bowled hardly any bad balls. He’s not the quickest but he’s got unbelievable skill.
“Mitch Claydon backed it up and then Matt Coles bowled a really good spell at the end. We didn’t have a very good half hour with the new ball but after that we were relentless and put in a great spell.
“Our bowling attack has got some really good variety. Claydon slams the wicket, the same with Coles, and then we have the left-arm variety with Wayne Parnell and the spin of James Tredwell. It’s a nice attack for me to call on.”
After 24 overs had been lost on the penultimate day, Kent declared at their overnight score of 413 for five. That set Sussex an academic 427 to win. They looked capable of survival when they reached 59 without loss, but then they lost six wickets for 24 runs in just 12 overs as Stevens, 41, produced a decisive spell on his way to his 14th five-wicket haul in first- class cricket. It was 20 years ago – on April 18, 1997 – that he made his first-class debut.
He had Harry Finch caught at second slip off the shoulder of the bat before having Chris Nash caught behind with a fine delivery that lifted and left the batsman. He then had Stiaan van Zyl caught at first slip before dismissing Laurie Evans, half-forward, lbw for two following his first innings duck on his county debut.
Mitch Claydon had Luke Wright lbw, playing across the line, and when Stevens took his fifth wicket, having Delray Rawlins caught behind, Sussex were 83 for six.
After lunch, David Wiese top-edged his pull off Coles to Daniel Bell-Drummond at deep square-leg and Vernon Philander was well caught by Joe Denly at midwicket off the same bowler. Coles picked up his third when he had Jofra Archer caught at first slip and the match ended when Ajmal Shahzad cut Wayne Parnell to Denly at point.
Sussex were all out for 200, but Ben Brown, who scored 90in the first innings, was unbeaten on 69 from 67 deliveries. Brown said:
“It’s disappointing. We know we can do a lot better than that. We had no luck in the game and when Vernon Philander got injured it was a big blow. And we have a tough weekend coming up with our match at Notts.”