Cricket: Kirtley reaps dividends of poor defence

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The Independent Online
Sussex 375 Hampshire 76 and 250-3

IN ONLY 9.1 overs at the start of the day, James Kirtley took five Hampshire first-innings wickets for five runs on a flat pitch. His outswingers moved but not extravagantly and Hampshire were unaccountably bowled out for 76, following on 299 behind.

Hampshire did better in their second innings, which hardly came as a surprise, with Robin Smith and Will Kendall showing the way. They have seven wickets in hand but still need 49 more to make Sussex bat again.

The weather forecast for today is good and the likelihood must be that Sussex will pick up another 16 points to add to the eight bonus points they already have. This would catapult them towards the top of the County Championship table and keep them well in line for a place in next year's First Division.

In all, Kirtley took 7 for 21 in Hampshire's first innings, which are the best figures of his career, and he worked up a good pace and took full advantage of some unworthy and incompetent batting.

One after another Hampshire's batsmen seemed to try to allow for outswing as they pushed half forward, and when the ball went straight on they were forced to play round their pads with disastrous results. This accounted for most of the five lbw decisions which went against them.

Jason Lewry also bowled well, if rather more expensively, taking care to pitch the ball up to allow it every chance to swing. They also kept the batsmen on the front foot, where they were obviously more vulnerable, and it was an excellent bowling display.

When Hampshire followed on, the openers were both out to poor strokes soon after lunch. Jason Laney lofted Justin Bates to mid-wicket for four whereupon Kirtley was stationed at deep mid-wicket to take a good catch when the batsman tried to repeat the stroke in Bates's next over.

Smith looked in excellent form and played some typically commanding strokes, reaching his 50 from 61 balls and putting on 107 with Kendall for the third wicket. He then drove at a wide one from Lewry and was caught in the gully.

By the close, Kendall and Giles White had put on 94 for the fourth wicket and have given Hampshire some semblance of a chance.