Ben Brown, Tom Clark underpin Sussex on even first day

Ben Brown drives Getty Images

Sussex 320 for 9 (Clark 65, Brown 90*) v Kent

Kent's Harry Podmore and Marcus O'Riordan took three wickets apiece while Sussex captain Ben Brown top-scored with an unbeaten 90 as honours finished even on the opening day of this Bob Willis Trophy south group clash at a sultry Canterbury.

O'Riordan, the 22-year-old offspinner making only his third first-class appearance, took career-best figures of 3 for 50 and former Middlesex seamer Podmore bagged 3 for 74 while Brown stood firm for over four hours to see Sussex in at stumps on 320 for 9.

The visitors lost three wickets in the opening session all due to batting errors. After hitting four boundaries in a run-a-ball cameo worth 19, Phil Salt feathered a tentative prod outside off to the keeper from a Darren Stevens leg-cutter to make it 27 for 1.

Second-wicket partners Harry Finch and Tom Haines added 50 from 80 balls before Kent debutant Tim Groenewald, bowling around the wicket, had left-handed Haines caught off an edged drive by Jordan Cox at slip for an attractive 21. Then, on the cusp of lunch, Finch fell for 37, caught at slip when aiming to slog-sweep O'Riordan.

Resuming after lunch on 93 for 3, Sussex ploughed on through Brown and Tom Clark who added 83 in almost 22 overs to take Sussex to their first batting bonus point. Clark contributed a 77-ball half-century - his maiden first-class fifty - with eight boundaries but the left-hander tossed away his wicket for 65 when dancing down the pitch to O'Riordan only to chip a simple catch to mid-on.

Sporting his new-look bleached grey hairstyle, Podmore then found the inside edge of Delray Rawlins' bat with a booming in-swinger that flew to the keeper, and Robinson claimed his third catch of the day when Garton, on four, followed a Podmore leg-cutter to give Kent their second bowling bonus point.

Though conditions for cricket were ideal, the eery lack of crowd noise made for a strange start to Kent's opening first-class home fixture for 2020. While Sussex changed in the Leslie Ames Stand hospitality boxes on the Nackington Road side of the ground, Kent used both dressing rooms on the pavilion side with a seven-player restriction per dressing room. As well as taking standard drinks intervals the players, who are unable to shower come each day's end, also took short hand sanitisation breaks every 20 minutes.

In the final session, Brown notched his side's second half-century of the day from 101 balls and with six fours. Yet Podmore continued his good work by having Jack Carson held at second slip on the drive after the right-hander edged a floating away-swinger.

O'Riordan mopped up his third wicket of the day when Henry Crocombe walked across his stumps working to leg to fall lbw then Stuart Meaker risked a second to deep cover only to be run out by Hamidullah Qadri's throw from the ropes.

"It feels great to get that first half-century out of the way and it was really nice to make a significant contribution to the team's total," Clark said. "It's massive for me to know I'll get a decent run in the side throughout this Bob Willis Trophy.

"O'Riordan was turning the ball steadily and that's encouraging for us, as we're bowling in the fourth innings. We have a couple of really good spinners in our side and I believe that will only reinforce our decent position in the match after the opening day."

Sussex were without Ollie Robinson, who was called up by England on the morning of the match ahead of the second Test against Pakistan next week.

Sussex 3rd innings Partnerships

1st0PD SaltTJ Haines
2nd35HZ FinchTJ Haines
3rd8HZ FinchTGR Clark
4th16BC BrownHZ Finch
5th30HZ FinchDMW Rawlins
6th10HZ FinchGHS Garton
7th3HZ FinchJJ Carson
8th11HZ FinchHT Crocombe
9th0SC MeakerHT Crocombe
10th60ME ClaydonSC Meaker