Alfonso Thomas took four wickets off consecutive deliveries to set up victory for Somerset in their County Championship Division One encounter with Sussex. GARETH STEVENS reports.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bat first at Taunton. The batsmen struggled and the decision could have been a disaster had it not been for Ed Joyce, whose 103 lead Sussex to a total of 214.
South African journeyman Thomas, who has played for Western Province, the Titans, the Dolphins and the Lions in South Africa, took the new ball and proved to be a constant threat as he extracted just enough swing and seam movement to keep the batsmen honest. He finished with impressive figures of 3-67 in 21.2 overs.
After a top first-innings bowling performance, Thomas would have thought that he could put his feet up for a well-deserved rest. However, the Somerset top order failed with countryman Alviro Petersen nicking off for eight. By the time Thomas came in to bat at No 10 his team looked as if they may concede a deficit. Thomas dug in, showing true South African resolve and shared a 77-run partnership with No 9 Craig Overton. The Titans representative was eventually bowled for 38, but his efforts ensured a first innings lead of 75.
Fired up and full of confidence after his heroics with the bat, the opening bowler turned the game squarely on its head. He rattled through the Sussex top order by dismissing James Anyon, Rory Hamilton-Brown and Joyce off the last three balls of the 16th over before sending Matt Macan packing with the first ball of the 18th over to complete his feat of taking four wickets off consecutive deliveries.
The unplayable burst left Sussex reeling on 33-5 on the third afternoon. The 37-year-old came back later in the afternoon to claim one more stick to complete his five-for, finishing with figures of 5-40. Sussex were dismissed for 178, leaving Somerset a victory target of 104 runs.
‘That was the first hat-trick of my professional career and has to be right up with the highlights,’ said Thomas after the frenetic third day’s play at Taunton.
There was a top-order wobble during Somerset’s chase, which included Petersen being dismissed for a duck, but the hosts navigated their way to 107-4 and victory by 6 wickets. The win inside three days boosts Somerset to the head of the points table, barring an unlikely Yorkshire win. Some supporters are starting to believe that this could be the year that Somerset win the County Championship for the first time.