Sussex v Kent, Specsavers Championship Div Two, Hove, 2nd day April 15, 2017

Philander scan concerns South Africa

Kent 304 and 82 for 2 lead Sussex 291 by 95 runs
Scorecard

Vernon Philander is facing a scan on a groin injury © Getty Images

An impending scan on a groin injury for Vernon Philander will concern South Africa ahead of their international commitments in England this summer.

Philander's injury, which meant that he did not take the field in Kent's second innings and instead will travel to London for assessment, took the gloss off a record 10th wicket stand against Kent between Ben Brown and Sussex's first-day hero Jofra Archer.

This development will frustrate Cricket South Africa who have been keen to manage their quicks ahead of a tour of England that includes three T20Is, three ODIs, three Tests and the Champions Trophy. Kent were victims of CSA's worry when they had a deal for Duanne Olivier pulled from under their noses. The feeling from Sussex is that, from this point on, CSA will determine what's next for Philander. Without Brown and Archer's 99-run partnership it could have been a grim day indeed.

They came together at the fall of Philander's wicket - 192 on the board, Kent's first innings of 304 staring back at them. And while there were moments of good fortune, Brown and Archer buckled and swashed their way through the afternoon, pushing tea back by half-an-hour, to get Sussex within 13, with two innings to play. Brown, in particular, was thoroughly impressive.

A wicketkeeper's career, now more so than ever, is a peculiar one. For the longest time, Brown's cricket was determined by the availability of England and Sussex legend Matt Prior. Most of the time, he was Prior's understudy. But, as Prior began to battle injuries up until retirement, Brown's presence would allow Prior to play as a batsman only. That dynamic has changed this year. Now, Prior is the man working to give Brown a better sense of clarity.

The pair worked together in pre-season, one-on-one sessions tailored to fine-tuning Brown's keeping. Speaking to the Sussex's website, Prior said that the wicketkeeper is "the last thought about man in any team, in any set-up". It is worth noting that England do not regularly travel with a specific wicket-keeping coach. While Prior had Bruce French to call upon, Prior's improvement as a wicketkeeper was largely down to his own drive and ambition. Brown's character is similar.

Brown is combative behind the stumps as he is in front of them. And while he is a popular man in the Sussex dressing room, he has put a reputation on the county circuit as someone who enjoys a battle (and that's putting it diplomatically). So when he strode to the crease with Sussex in a scrap - 97 for six, 207 behind - you knew he fancied putting a few noses out of joint.

He was expansive without being reckless: allowing the pace on the ball and the speed of the outfield to square drive through point and gully early on to Wayne Parnell and Matt Coles. Once he had faith in the pitch, he pulled handsomely through midwicket and, before you knew it, he had 47 from as many balls. The half-century would eventually come from 66, cooling his jets after the loss of Wiese. But once Archer started to play his shots - his own fifty, a second in first class cricket, took 67 balls and eight fours - Brown reverted to type before cruelly being undone by a ball from Coles that did not bounce as much as expected and trapped him in front for 90.

Brown is no old-fashioned gloveman but he's not some iron-palmed Generation Z dasher, either. He has that wicketkeeper's knack of scoring frustrating runs in annoying areas, at an uncomfortable rate for oppositions captains. Sam Northeast's fields failed to tie him down.

Over the last three years, Brown has taken on more responsibility. When Sussex were relegated from Division One in 2015, he picked up the slack of more senior partners to score 1,031 first class runs (the first time he'd made it into four figures). Last year he managed 980 and, despite a blow to the head in preseason casting doubt over his participation in this game, he looks set for another fruitful summer.

The follow on was not out of the question. Kent bossed the morning session, reducing Sussex to 58 for five (246 behind). Wayne Parnell, in a Kent cream shirt and his white Proteas trousers, bowled quick enough from the Sea End to take out Harry Finch's off and middle stump. Left-handers Delray Rawlins and Stiaan van Zyl did what they could to soak up pressure - taking a few blows along the way. But when round-arm delivery from Mitchell Claydon had van Zyl caught at third slip, then Laurie Evans nibbling behind for a second-ball duck on Sussex debut. Claydon, in his fourth full season at Kent, was unlucky not to finish with his eight career five-wicket haul.

A 29 from Luke Wright and a 22 from Wiese allowed Brown to get settled before he found a longer-term companion in Archer.

Whatever skip in Sussex's step going into the evening session was dissipated by an accomplished opening stand between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sean Dickson. Bell-Drummond, the wrong side of an internet storm after leaving a ball from Archer that took his middle stump for a walk, had revenge on his mind. A punchy 35 featured some outrageous boundaries almost exclusively off the bowler of Archer. One shot - an outrageous uppercut over gully - went for six into the corporate tent.

Ajmal Shahzad, impressive in the first innings, would remove Bell-Drummond LBW before clipping the top of Joe Denly's off stump for the second time in the match. Leading by 96, with eight second-innings wickets in hand and on a pitch starting to throw in the odd surprise, Kent's find themselves in the driving seat.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kausthub on April 16, 2017, 18:44 GMT

    Sussex losing players to injuries, especially overseas pacers.

  • RanjithKumar on April 16, 2017, 6:56 GMT

    @srini_indian in tests philender may not be dibbly-dobbly he is very decent bowler

  • Cricinfouser on April 16, 2017, 6:05 GMT

    South Africa have four tests in England this summer, not three.

  • darren on April 15, 2017, 21:00 GMT

    Poor Sussex, they will have to once again scout out the rest of the world for another none English player!

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