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Alfonso Thomas takes four in four

George Dobell at Taunton
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Alfonso Thomas became the first bowler to take four wickets in four balls in the Championship since 2000 © Getty Images
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Alfonso Thomas claimed four wickets in four balls to helped Somerset establish a match-winning position against Sussex.

Thomas, the 37-year-old South African, became the first Somerset bowler to complete the feat in first-class cricket and the first man to do so at Taunton as he sparked a collapse that saw Sussex lose five wickets in 10 deliveries without scoring a run.

In the sixth over of the third day Thomas, bowling full and gaining just a little swing, first had the nightwatchman James Anyon bowled off the inside edge after attempting a slightly loose push at one swinging back at him, before Rory Hamilton-Brown was struck on the boot by a full one next delivery. Ed Joyce completed the hat-trick when he was caught behind poking at a good one, delivered from around the wicket, and forcing a stroke as it jagged back towards him.

That ended Thomas' over but, four balls later, Chris Nash attempted to cut a wide ball from Peter Trego without moving his feet and edged to first slip. Then Thomas, starting a new over, had Matt Machan bowled off the inside edge as the batsman attempted another loose drive at a full ball he could have left.

Thomas is the first man to claim four wickets in four balls in first-class cricket in English cricket since 2000, when Gary Butcher was the unlikely destroyer of Derbyshire, and the first man to do it in any first-class cricket since 2011, when Neil Wagner did it for Otago against Wellington.

Thomas eventually finished with his third five-wicket haul in three successive Championship matches at Taunton as Sussex were bowled out for 178. It meant Somerset required 104 to clinch a win that could potentially see them top of the Division One table at the halfway stage of the season. The club have never won the County Championship.

Thomas recently admitted he considered retiring from red ball cricket over the winter after struggling to recover from a series of injuries.

"It was the shoulder, then it was the back," he told the Bristol Post. "And you lie in bed at night and think 'Is this the end?' Those kinds of thoughts have no doubt gone through my head, where I'd just pack the red ball away and go to the white ball."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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