Hemmings hands Wells his just reward

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reports from Hove

Sussex 323 and 343

Kent 361 and 230

Sussex win by 75 runs

Over the years, Sussex supporters have had to be a philosophical lot, and here it looked for a time as if their resilience was again going to be tested.

Kent, needing 306 to win, had been reduced to 88 to 6 by lunch, and yet 65 minutes into the afternoon were 194 for 6 with Mark Ealham and Steve Marsh going strong. It was then that Eddie Hemmings, who began his career 30 seasons ago, with Warwickshire in 1966, made his considerable presence felt.

He removed first Marsh, whom he cleverly deceived in the flight and bowled. He can be forgiven for punching the air as if he had scored the winning goal. In his next over, Min Patel swept and lobbed a gentle catch to backward short leg, and a third wicket came in his following over when Dean Headley drove and was stumped.

Ealham, in his second excellent innings of the match, and Tim Wren then added 32 good runs for the last wicket before Headley, pushing forward to Hemmings, was out to a fine diving catch by Wells at slip.

It was appropriate that Wells should have a hand in this last wicket for he was the outstanding player of the match with two glorious hundreds. His captaincy was also outstanding and he handled his four bowlers - Ed Giddins was injured - most intelligently on this last day. Surely the Test selectors cannot ignore him if his prodigious batting form continues.

All told, this was a fine game of cricket which showed that players are becoming better adapted to the needs of the four-day game. It also produced an important victory for Sussex in that it will have gone a long way towards eradicating the memory of their recent heavy defeat by Derbyshire.

When Kent began their innings on this easy-paced pitch, their target did not seem beyond them, but within no time at all they were six wickets down.

Trevor Ward hooked at one too high above his head and Matthew Walker was lbw playing across an inswinger. At 24, Aravinda de Silva played Franklyn Stephenson to Wells's left in the covers. The batsmen ran, Wells swooped, pivoted and threw down the bowler's stumps with De Silva out by three yards. It was a brilliant piece of fielding.

Mark Benson was undone by Jason Lewry's left-arm-over angle of delivery, while Neil Taylor pushed at Lewry from the crease and, a trifle unhappily, departed lbw.

After a few firm buffets Matthew Fleming swept Ian Salisbury to deep midwicket. This made it 68 for 6 and Marsh joined Ealham.

They shored it up until lunch and then, as the Sussex bowlers supplied them with little else but half-volleys, began to drive the ball most handsomely to all parts of the ground.

When Hemmings took the ball, most of the crowd were wringing their hands in all too familiar fashion.