At the mid-point of their four-day Specsavers County Championship Division Two match at The Nevill, Sussex had reached 69-1 in reply to Kent’s season’s best total of 575 all out. The visitors’ sole casualty was Harry Finch (3), bowled when playing back in defence to a Mitch Claydon off-cutter which appeared to keep low.
Northeast had batted in a short-sleeved sweater for well over six hours in the hottest conditions of the year to post the fourth century of a golden summer and the 15th of his career.
Having bolstered his career-best in recent weeks with scores of 189, 191 and 166 not out, 26-year-old Northeast looked nailed on for his first double hundred until he slightly mistimed an attempted straight drive and saw bowler Steve Magoffin pull off a return catch diving to his left.
The Kent skipper showed his frustration by turning around to flick off the bails with his bat, but his 244-ball stay with 13 fours and a six had secured his side a dominant position.
Resuming on their overnight score of 310-3 and with Northeast unbeaten on 75, Kent suffered only one casualty in the morning session.
Darren Stevens reached a typically belligerent 63 before his ambition got the better of him. Having just slog swept one from Danny Briggs to the ropes, Stevens aimed to repeat the dose only to sky a catch to Will Beer at mid-wicket.
Northeast joined forces with Alex Blake to add 127 inside 30 overs either side of lunch, Blake reaching his 50 with a six over long-on against the leg-spin of Beer. It was the left-hander’s second maximum to go with three fours. His fun ended for 61 with a missed sweep and an lbw appeal against Danny Briggs that made it 457-5.
Briggs struck again when James Tredwell (18) also skied to square leg and, once Northeast departed, the Kent tail soon rolled over.
On his home debut, emergency wicketkeeper Callum Jackson scored a creditable 38 before becoming the last of Briggs’s hard-earned haul of 5-169.
Sussex head coach Mark Davis paid tribute to Briggs’ and his side’s tenacity with bat and ball. He said: “It was a good effort to get through the final session today and only lose one wicket in the face of a good spell from Kagiso Rabada. It’s obviously going to be hard work over the next two days as the pitch deteriorates, so we must go out there with a clear gameplan and make sure we fight our corner.
“It was a very good toss for Kent to win and we tried to set some fields that made them think, but generally we stuck to our task and it was really exciting for ‘Briggsy’ to get his first five-for for the club.”
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