The standard advice to people who can't stand the heat is to get out of the kitchen and that is precisely what Kent's batsmen did when Sussex switched to their Aga here yesterday. In this case the Aga was Ragheb of that name, a Kenyan seamer, with British citizenship, who proved to be pretty nippy once he was introduced to the attack.
The 6ft 3in Nairobi-born bowler, who generates awkward bounce, twice went past the outside edge of the Kent captain Rob Key's bat in his opening over, and then produced a devastating spell. Aga, playing in only his third Championship match, gave the Kent batsmen a severe grilling with three wickets in seven balls for no runs. First to go was Key, bowled around his legs. Martin van Jaarsveld followed for his fourth duck in 10 Championship innings, caught behind after getting on the back foot to one that left him. Aga's next over saw Darren Stevens caught at first slip, again going without troubling the scorers.
Just as suddenly as the Aga fire had raged, so it subsided, enough for James Tredwell and Justin Kemp to get the Kent cauldron bubbling again with a record fifth-wicket stand against Sussex. In something over two hours the pair put on 167, five more than the previous mark set by Mark Benson and Chris Cowdrey at Hove in 1982. They were parted when Corey Collymore had Tredwell lbw for the left-hander's second championship 50 of the season.
Kemp then found an able sidekick in the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones (30). Kemp had just reached the 12th hundred of his career, and his first for 18 months, ensuring a third batting point, when Aga returned to the attack for his third spell. Aga, 23, found the thinnest of outside edges and Matt Prior's catch ended Kemp's three-hour innings. That wicket also ensured that by the time Kent declared (having collected a fourth bonus point), Aga had a career best return of 4 for 63.
There was applause for that, and also an ironic handclap when the extras total reached 50. The Sussex reply was cautious, even uneasy at times, in the face of some hostile bowling from Yasir Arafat, Azhar Mahmood and Robbie Joseph.
But Chris Nash and Michael Yardy still managed to compile Sussex's second-highest opening stand of the season – 55 – before Ryan McLaren had Nash caught behind in the penultimate over.Reuse content