Alfonso Thomas topples four wickets in a row to hasten Sussex's demise

Sussex 214 & 178 Somerset 289 & 107-4 (Somerset win by six wickets)
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The Independent Online

Somerset paceman Alfonso Thomas hastened Sussex to a six-wicket defeat with a day to spare at Taunton by taking four wickets in four balls. It is an achievement that had not been performed in a first-class match since 2000, when Gary Butcher did so for Surrey against Derbyshire.

The 37-year-old Thomas is the first Somerset player to do so. The victory temporarily took Somerset to the top of First Division in the County Championship.

Thomas, who finished with 5 for 40, dismissed James Anyon, Rory Hamilton-Brown and Ed Joyce with the last three balls of the 17th over to achieve his hat-trick.

With the first ball of his next over he made it four from four in emphatic fashion by clean bowling Matt Machan. No bowler has taken five first-class wickets in consecutive balls, and Ben Brown managed to block the fateful delivery.

Peter Trego (3 for 27) had grabbed the wicket of Chris Nash in the intervening over as Sussex collapsed from 33 for 0 to 33 for 5 in 10 balls. Sussex did at least go on to reach 178 but that left the home side with a target of just 104.

The South African-born Thomas, who arrived as a Kolpack player in 2008 and is renowned as a one-day expert, induced Anyon to edge on to his stumps, then had Hamilton-Brown lbw. Joyce, who had made a century in the first innings, edged the next ball to the wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter for another duck.

Nash was induced to snick a delivery from medium-pacer Trego to James Hildreth in the slips. Thomas then sent Machan's off stump flying in dramatic fashion.

Luke Wright (35) and Ben Brown (35) restored some vestige of order, putting on 71, but it was Thomas who returned to end Wright's unlikely vigil as Marcus Trescothick held on to a catch. Only a ninth-wicket stand of 56 between Steffan Piolet (30) and Will Beer (29) frustrated the home side.

The Irish left-arm spinner George Dockrell (2 for 37) dismissed both, and Somerset seemed determined to ensure the target was reached by the end of the day's play as they set off in rapid fashion.

Johann Myburgh raced to 27 off 12 balls before he was out in the fifth over with the score on 41. Trescothick fell soon after but Nick Compton produced a more measured, unbeaten 38 before Kieswetter (15 not out) hit the winning runs to seal a memorable victory.