Cricket: McCague bursts defences

Kent 245 & 440 Sussex 264 & 317 Kent win by 104 runs
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The Independent Online
Cricket, like life, can be tough. After dominating this match for the bulk of its four-day course, Sussex fell victim to two hot spells by Kent - first when their opponents' tail was allowed not so much to wag as to thrash its way to a record stand on Friday, then when Martin McCague unleashed a devastating spell of fast bowling yesterday.

McCague's impressive return of 7 for 82 was his third haul of five wickets or more in as many championship matches and took his total for the season to 21. But until McCague's lethal burst of 4 for 12 in 27 balls, things had been looking good for Sussex.

There is a long tradition of brothers in arms down on the South Coast embracing some famous family names - Gilligan, Langridge, Buss, Wells, Oakes and Greig. And to an astonishing list of 41 sets of brothers that have played at first-class level for Sussex can now be added the name Newell.

For 41 overs Keith and Mark of that name defied Kent on a pitch that offered little of anything to the bowlers. Keith, at 25 the elder of the two, compiled a good-looking, but watchful 112 - his fourth first-class hundred - while helping to put on 138 runs for the fifth wicket with 23-year-old Mark.

Sussex had begun the day needing a further 391 runs for an improbable victory, then lost a further three wickets. But the longer the Newells were together the brighter shone Sussex hopes. Keith in particular looked a classy act and earned praise from Desmond Haynes, the Sussex coach. "Of the two, Keith is the one with the flair," he said. "I like his calmness at the crease. He is not easily rattled."

Keith played not a false shot in the 194 balls faced before the last delivery when he pushed forward to one from leg-spinner Paul Strang and was caught at silly point. Courageously as Mark batted after that, he lost partners too regularly as McCague, Irish-born, Australian raised and former England player, worked up a head of steam with the new ball.

He was too fast for the lower Sussex order and ultimately too good for Mark Newell. His gallant innings ended after three hours of resistance when McCague tempted him to try to turn a delivery behind square and he ended up in the safe hands of Strang. He had the consolation of having improved on his first-innings career best, albeit by one run.

And it was only his fourth first-class innings - in his first two he bagged a pair, down here he helped himself to two fifties.

Newell was the ninth wicket to fall and the last man, Mark Robinson, did not last too long, McCague ripping out his off stump when Sussex were eight and a half overs from securing a draw. But if it has been a bleak start for Sussex with four straight defeats in the Sunday League, three previous draws in the Championship and an exit from the Benson & Hedges Cup at the zonal stages, then they can draw heart from Horsham. Things are looking up.

As for Kent, they look good on paper. Now, at last, they are beginning to perform on grass.

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