Kent prevail after sun stops play at Canterbury

South Group: Kent 166-6 (Latham 48 beat Sussex 156-4 (Taylor 49′ Cowdrey 2-8) by ten runs

Cricket: A sport often ridiculed for shooting itself in the foot reloaded its gun once again tonight – at least this time in a more humorous way.

The faction of ‘rain stops play’ has long been a staple part of a cricket fan’s diet, frustratingly watch the tiny specks of precipitation fall almost unknowingly.

Bad light, often the causer of more baffling stoppages, is also well known, while the shires were even graced by snow halting proceedings in the early part of the season.

But for those at Canterbury, and the extras watching on Sky, there was a new obstruction preventing cricket: sun stops play.

Eight balls into Sussex’s chase, Luke Wright stepped aside unable to see Mitchell Claydon deliver a ball due to the setting sun being slightly too low and thus being a problem for visibility.

Cue mass ridicule. What started as a laughable novelty became all the more rueful as the delay ticked beyond 15 minutes, the paying public and TV viewers became more and more bemused. The laughs quickly subsided knowing European Championships football was on free-to-air channels.

No matter, we said with a chuckle when we finally got back underway. No overs lost and a quirky tale to tell the office tomorrow, it was no big deal.

Until we stopped again less than three overs later. The sun, slightly lower in the sky, cast some unwanted glare on the Nackington Road End, once again into the eyes of Wright.

With the pace of Kagiso Rabada set to run at him, you couldn’t blame Wright for actually wanting to see the ball come at him, but by the time the floodlights reared their ugly heads we were all grateful for manufactured light taking centre stage.

And that wasn’t all the humour the Canterbury ground were graced. Rabada, the South African making his debut for the home county, is one of a growing number who bats with one hand but bowls with the other.

It seemed the ambidexterity was something even he forgot as, despite batting left-handed and bowling right-handed, he came out with an armguard on his left, leaving his right arm – the front arm – exposed to Chris Jordan.

Fortunately for Rabada and Kent, the England paceman wasn’t quite on top form, leaking 47 from his four overs. The spearhead of a pace attack featuring Tymal Mills, Ajmal Shahzad and debutant Nuwan Kulasekara, the visitors couldn’t force a breakthrough until the 12th over.

Mills, as he so often does, got the scalp, forcing Joe Denly to hole out for 44 before Shahzad had Tom Latham (48) and Sam Northeast out in the very next over.

Unfortunately for those on the bandwagon for Mills’ international call-up, the Sky speed-gun was on the blink, but the former Essex man certainly looked rapid, some claiming a pace of 95mph from the quick.

Three wickets for four runs derailed Kent, but Alex Blake’s late 36-run cameo helped them to 166-6 – Mills finishing with exemplary figures of 4-0-15-1, despite being at the mercy of a free-hit in his very first over.

It proved ten runs too much for Sussex, who lost Chris Nash as early as the third over when clean bowled by Rabada, impressive with two wickets on debut.

The eventual – light permitting – dismissal of Wright seemed to halt Sussex, devoid of a boundary for four overs before Ross Taylor took a fancy to Darren Stevens and the 11th over. Six-four-four was the result.

Needing 83 from 54 was far from out of the question, but with Taylor on 49 he was pinned in front by the part-time spin of Fabian Cowdrey to miss out on a half-century.

It put Cowdrey on a hat-trick having dismissed Phil Salt on the last ball of his previous over, but he was forced to make do with excellent figures of 2-0-8-2 instead. Not bad after making a duck with the bat.

And while Craig Cachopa and Matt Machan recovered to make 51 between them, the lack of boundaries (just one four and one six each) thwarted Sussex and gave Kent a vital victory.

So no Natwest T20 Blexit for Kent just yet – the light of their limited-overs campaign continues to shine brightly. Only just.


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