Edward Giddins, the nightwatchman, and Peter Moores both fell in the first hour to Timothy Wren's left-arm seam bowling, bringing in Alan Wells to partner Bill Athey, who was playing his customary anchor role. This partnership was all the more important to Sussex as Neil Lenham had a back injury.
Wells displayed great flair, diligence and all-round strokeplay as he took apart a Kent attack weakened by the lack of Martin McCague and Alan Igglesden. His aggressive sweeping and driving forced the talented Min Patel out of the attack and coaxed Athey out of his shell to complete his fifty in 114 minutes and 92 balls.
Matthew Fleming and Aravinda De Silva put the brakes on before lunch but after the interval both batsmen came out fighting, and Wells reached his half century in 83 balls with two sweetly-timed square drives off De Silva.
Dean Headley then worked up a fine head of pace and he got his just reward when he trapped Athey lbw for 72. This, coupled with 62 in the first innings, is a welcome return to form for Athey after he bagged a pair against Derbyshire last week.
Kent sensed they may have exposed Sussex's soft underbelly, but allowed the out-of-form Keith Greenfield to play himself in with some toothless bowling. It seemed inexplicable, despite the absence of turn, that Patel was not given another spell until half an hour before tea when the attack was crying out for variation. Meanwhile, Wells' chanceless innings carried serenely on. His century came off 176 balls, included 12 fours and put him firmly in contention for the coming campaign against the West Indies.
With only half an hour remaining, Headley returned to dramatic effect, removing Wells, Lenham and IanSalisbury in a spell of three wickets for five runs. In the final over, Franklyn Stephenson hit Patel for three sixes before being caught off the last ball of the day.Reuse content