Darren Stevens’ Indian summer continued in the Royal Spa Town of Tunbridge Wells where Kent utterly dominated second-day proceedings against neighbours Sussex.
Having banked a first innings lead of 205 after skittling Sussex inside two sessions for 164 – with 41-year-old Stevens bagging five for 40 – Kent opted to improve their advantage and went in at stumps on 116 without loss after a 35-over final session.
Kent's Darren Stevens said: "It felt good bowling with the breeze at my back for a change. I usually bowl at the bottom end here [Railway End], but Sam Northeast gave me the choice and it worked well."
"It's all about beating the bat by putting the ball in the areas you want. We have game plans to every player we play against and I find it satisfying when those plans come off."
Daniel Bell-Drummond endorsed his skipper’s decision not to enforce the follow-on by hitting a season’s best 68 not out, while Sean Dickson’s 38 not out helped contribute to Kent’s impressive overall lead of 321 at the mid-point of the match.
Kent’s supremacy started in the opening session when they scored quick, first-innings runs before taking four Sussex wickets to send the visitors limping in at lunch on 78 for four.
Resuming on their first day total of 316 for eight, Kent moved on at a frenetic pace as Adam Rouse scored three boundaries off Vernon Philander’s opening over only to depart lbw for 44 when playing back to a full off-cutter.
The hosts reached 350 for a fourth batting bonus point in Philander’s next over when James Tredwell steered a four through a vacant third man, but, with 18 to his name Tredwell nicked one from Chris Jordan to Chris Nash at second slip.
Inside 8.1 overs the hosts had added 53 runs while Philander and David Wiese finished with three wickets apiece for the visitors.
Taking to the field, Kent’s on-loan seamer James Harris steamed in from the Railway End to pluck out the off stump of Chris Nash with only his second delivery.
Then, at the Pavilion End, Stevens revealed his years of bowling skills to account for Luke Wells (25) and Harry Finch (5). Wells pushed at one going across him to edge to slip. While Finch, having left two floaty away swingers, was snared lbw with a darting in-ducker that caught him flush in front.
Matt Coles, in his 100th first-class appearance, then got in on the act by removing Luke Wright for 12. The Sussex skipper went hard at one outside off stump, but a thick edge flew into the cordon where James Tredwell, diving full length in front of first slip, took a stunning head-high catch.
Matt Coles returns to the field to continue his spell at the Railway end in his 100th first class match. pic.twitter.com/JCcRQ835OL— Kent Cricket 🏏 (@kentcricket) May 27, 2017
In a frenetic mid-session, Sussex lost their last six wickets for 86 with Darren Stevens claiming five for 40 – his fourth five-wicket return of the summer. Skittled for 164 inside 50 overs, Sussex conceded a first innings deficit of 205 as David Wiese, who was dropped behind when on 19, top-scoring with 35.
Stevens – who now has 29 championship wickets averaging 12.08 apiece – gave yet another seam-bowling masterclass/ seemingly nibbling the ball around at will, it was the object lesson in ‘you miss, I hit’ bowling.
Harris relied more on his pace to snag the last two wickets to fall in a haul of three for 37 as Sussex lost their last three wickets inside 11 balls and without addition to their score.