Sussex 172 (Kleinveldt 5-50) and 34 for 1 (Robson 10*) trail Northamptonshire 426 (Duckett 193) by 220 runs
They don’t do boring at the County Ground and day two was no different, as 16 wickets fell to rush this game along at such a rate that Northamptonshire, not for the first time this season, might have to find something else to do on day four. Not that they’ll mind: Sussex, following on, trail them by 220 runs, skittled out for 172 in the first innings after the hosts put on 426 in theirs.
While it was a collective effort from all in maroon caps who took the ball, it was Rory Kleinveldt’s 5 for 50 – his first five-wicket haul of the season – that stands out as much on paper as it did on the pitch. Amid countless plays and misses, he was able to take six wickets across two sessions – he also nabbed the first wicket to fall in Sussex’s second innings – to leave Sussex skipper Ben Brown cursing two poor days in a row.
It is easy to sneer at Northamptonshire and Kleinveldt. They know that, too, hence presenting themselves as the vanguard of English cricket: forever raging against the scoffing that unfairly comes their way. If it was up to some of the players, “Big Bellies, Big Sixes” would adorn the gates at the entrance of Wantage Road. There is a pride in the way they play their cricket here that others should heed.
Kleinveldt personifies that approach. Where a strength-and-conditioning coach may see a lost cause, Alex Wakely sees a bowler whom he can call upon for 10 overs up top with the new ball. His trusted seamer did what Sussex didn’t: persist with a line that asked the batsmen to stay honest. Eventually he convinced Angus Robson to push at a ball he had left many times before and play onto his own stumps.
The 27-over gap between his first and second spell were not spent hiding in the field: a settled cordon of Ben Duckett, Wakely and Richard Levi meant he was fielding in the ring as Northants fought to defend every run. His final 5.4-over burst was the telling contribution, as Sussex’s tail of more-than-capable allrounders was snuffed out with Kleinveldt taking four of them for just 15 runs. After a quick break, his four overs to start the follow-on innings saw him nab Luke Wells, too.
It is worth noting that Sussex’s first-innings scorecard was more reflective of the bowling than the pitch, which encouraged and rewarded shotmaking throughout. Even as wickets tumbled, players were able to drive for boundaries. Jofra Archereven managed to take Simon Kerrigan downtown for back-to-back sixes. The scorecard doesn’t lie and the story it tells an accurate story: all of the top five got starts that should have been converted.
The opening hour and a half was an extension of day one. Archer and Chris Jordan were wayward with the ball allowing Northamptonshire to tick along at around four an over. Ollie Robinson and David Wiese picked up their slack to finish with four and three wickets respectively.
Josh Cobb, beginning his innings at the start of play, helped the hosts breeze past 350 for only the second time this season with a handful of shots he usually saves for the white ball. Danny Briggs was chipped down the ground for four and then Cobb set his sights on Wiese, skewing a few boundaries before hitting him out of the ground over square leg.
Meanwhile, Luke Procter, on loan from Lancashire, played a more sedate hand, bringing up his first Championship fifty of the season from 94 balls.
Procter was singled out for praise by Duckett at the end of day one, who found time when talking about his 193 from 200 balls to laud a nuggety left-hander who dug deep to stumps so that he could recommence today with Northants on 329 for 5. It is no coincidence they passed 400 and achieved full batting points for the first time this season. They have been crying out for someone to act as the glue in the middle order and Procter’s turn was Oscar-worthy. His dismissal underlined that.
When he edged Robinson to second slip for 57 from 116 balls, it set about a collapse that went on to read 5 for 25, as Northants were bowled out for 426.
Sussex started well, with a breezy opening stand of 46 from Robson and Luke Wells, built upon by Stiaan van Zyl and Chris Nash, at three and four respectively. Nash was bright and breezy, van Zyl skittish and streaky, but the team hundred was brought up with the pair’s fifty partnership. But 101 for 2 was as good as it got for the visitors.
Nash nicked Azharullah behind for the bowler’s second wicket before Kerrigan, another Lancashire loanee, produced an inspired spell after tea. Who knows what his future might hold and whether it is still at Old Trafford, but his two dismissals in the evening session will have turned a few important heads here. He ripped one from well outside off stump and through a driving van Zyl to knock out leg stump. Then, he drifted one into Jordan and then spun it away sharply from the right-hander to take his edge through to Levi, completing a smart chance to his left.
Kleinveldt then returned from the Wantage Road end to polish off the tail, taking a sharp caught-and-bowled chance from Robinson then bowling Wiese and Briggs to leave Sussex 254 behind. The collapse was a dismal eight for 71.
By stumps, 34 of those runs were chalked off, with Wells falling for his second misjudged in the same session. Tonight, he and the rest of his team-mates will rue a promotion charge starting to run out of puff.
Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport
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