Somerset’s Alfonso Thomas stunned Sussex with an incredible four wickets in four balls to help his side claim an emphatic six-wicket victory in LV= County Championship Division One.
Thomas sealed his hat-trick by dismissing James Anyon, Rory Hamilton-Brown and Ed Joyce in the last three balls of the 17th over before returning to the attack in the 19th over and making it four in four with the wicket of Scotland’s Matt Machan.
Somerset’s Peter Trego (three for 27) also sent Chris Nash back to the pavilion in between as Sussex crashed from 33 for nought to 33 for five in ten balls at Taunton.
Thomas (five for 40) attempted to become the first player to take five wickets in five balls in first-class history but, much to the disappointment of the home crowd, Sussex number seven Ben Brown was able to block the delivery.
It is the first time a Somerset player has taken four first-class wickets in a row while Surrey’s Gary Butcher was the last man to achieve the feat in English cricket against Derbyshire in 2000.
Sussex never recovered thereafter, posting a meagre target of 103 which Somerset comfortably knocked off with six wickets to spare.
Meanwhile, Moeen Ali is confident he is ready to make a success of his likely Test debut at Lord’s tomorow.
The Worcestershire player is part of England’s 12-man squad for the series opener against Sri Lanka and is pencilled in as the side’s spin-bowling all-rounder.
The 26-year-old made his name in county cricket as a front-line batsman but England’s lack of in-form spinners means he has been selected for Peter Moores’ comeback Test as head coach as much for his bowling as his runs. And it is a challenge he is delighted to embrace.
He said: “I don’t think it gets better than this in international cricket, hopefully to make your debut at Lord’s. I can’t describe the feeling but it means a lot.”
“I can’t wait to walk through that room [the Lord’s Long Room] and get out there.
“It’s nice to be part of a new era – a similar thing happened with Worcestershire in county cricket when some big guys left and I had to step up.
“I feel like I’m ready [as a batsman]. I had a good knock last week and I’m ready to play.”
Moeen may be the only English spinner with anything approaching a “mystery” ball – the so-called “doosra” that he has been practising.
But Sri Lanka’s batsmen appear unlikely to lose any sleep about the possibility of having to contend with it.
Moeen, planning to try out the delivery after learning it from his Worcestershire team-mate Saeed Ajmal, will not be England’s Plan A to take wickets in the first Investec Test.
He will be expected to get through his fair share of overs if England’s frontline pace attack do not bowl Sri Lanka out first.
But Lahiru Thirimanne, the tourists’ vice-captain, made it abundantly clear his team will be primarily concerned with the threat of England’s seamers.
Thirimanne said: “I don’t think the Lord’s wicket will turn.
“It will suit fast bowlers – the majority of records [here] belong to fast bowlers. We’re good at playing spin, so we just want to concentrate on pace.”
James Anderson’s seam and swing and the returning Stuart Broad’s pace will remain Sri Lanka’s preoccupation but Thirimanne senses an opportunity against hosts in transition after their Ashes whitewash.
“In English conditions, I think the England attack is the best in the world. But, at the moment, they have some new fast bowlers. So we have a little bit of a chance because they are regrouping their side.
“There are [still] some world-class bowlers, like Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad – so we have to play our best cricket.”
“We’ve won one-day series here, but we want to concentrate on these Tests,” added Thirimanne.
“We’ve won two Tests here; we want to win a series now.
“This is a very good chance for us to do that.”