Sussex v Northamptonshire, Hove, 3rd day July 8, 2014

Crook rallies but can't halt Sussex mismatch

Ryan Bailey at Hove

Sussex 405 (Wright 158) beat Northamptonshire 116 (Magoffin 5-12) and 204 (Crook 52*, Magoffin 3-28, Hobden 3-49) by an innings and 85 runs

It wasn't long after the formalities were complete at Hove that a swarm of enthusiastic schoolchildren proceeded to invade the outfield and take advantage of the prompt conclusion equipped with bats and balls. For those spectators that were feeling somewhat short-changed from a match that lasted just seven sessions, they ought to have stuck around for the afternoon session - after all, the games of Kwik-Cricket were more of a contest than what had gone before.

Indeed, this was, from start to finish, very much men against boys. Sussex began the week just one place ahead of Northamptonshire in the Division One standings but it scarcely showed as the gulf in class between the two sides was big enough for the Queen Mary to dock at Brighton Pier. The white flag on the visitors' balcony had been raised long before they meekly capsized shortly after the umpires extended the morning session.

Having now lost all but two of their ten Championship outings, every sinew of credence and confidence that embodied Northants' successes last term has been drained. Nightwatchman Olly Stone was thrown in at the deep-end without lifebands, Matthew Spriegel horribly misjudged one from the imperious Steve Magoffin that nipped back and Andrew Hall was snared attempting an expansive drive when the situation called for anything but.

But, while the ease in which the hosts coasted to victory can largely be attributed to their opponents' ineptitude, Sussex were clinically efficient. After all, they were, just like their opponents, in desperate need of a victory after a barren run of their own. But the difference is that Sussex have the calibre of players such as Magoffin in their ranks.

Adding to his first innings haul of five wickets, he continued to torment the Northants batsmen with a nagging line and length that allowed little room for error. After the ECB pitch inspector had watched proceedings from afar on Monday, he deemed the surface perfectly adequate on the back of a brief appraisal before play - but Northants proceeded to make it look like a minefield. Rob Newton gave the Australian his seventh of the match and Kyle Coetzer followed in similar fashion next over.

Ben Duckett provided a brief period of resistance alongside Steven Crook, who followed up a century at Lord's with an unbeaten fifty here. But once Duckett turned Ashar Zaidi to Chris Nash at short leg, for a watchful 23, the wheels were set in motion though.

Crook played, unlike his teammates, without any inhibitions and batted with a semblance of disdain with the intention to show those on the balcony how it was done. Eight fours and a lusty maximum off James Tredwell - the England spinner went wicketless despite Sussex's dominance - added a smidgen of respectability to the scoreboard but it was too little too late. The writing is very much on the wall for Northants.