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Philander finds form to seal Sussex rout

Sussex 668 (Wells 258, Van Zyl 149, Burgess 76, Archer 70, Coughlin 3-127) beat Durham 287 (Coughlin 73, Pringle 60, Archer 5-76) and 204 (Weighell 58, Philander 4-39, Archer 3-49) by an innings and 177 runs
Scorecard

Vernon Philander in county cricket has been a paradox. The gifts which have earned him huge success in Test cricket - seam movement, nip and unrelenting accuracy - appear ideally suited to English conditions. He played a crucial role in South Africa's Test series victory in England in 2012 and, they will hope, will do the same later this summer.

And yet, for all these qualities, the impression that Philander has left in county cricket has often been underwhelming: of a cricketer bowling within himself to preserve himself for sterner challenges ahead. Sussex are his fifth county; none of the previous four were particularly enamoured with him.

Philander's stint at Hove did not begin auspiciously either. He went wicketless in his opening Championship game, the home defeat to Kent, during which he sustained a groin injury that ruled him out for a month.

Here, though, the imposter who has masqueraded as Philander in county cricket was replaced by the man who has snared 161 Test wickets at 22.39 apiece, a preposterous return in this age of the bat. Sussex's maximum-points victory was sealed when Philander uprooted Graham Onions' middle stump with a ball that had moved in from down the slope; away movement and awkward bounce had accounted for Chris Rushworth the previous ball.

Philander, then, had figures of 4 for 39 in the innings and 6 for 99 in the match, including four wickets in the opposition's top three: the sort of return demanded of a cricketer with such international pedigree, even on a wicket flatter than those ideally suited to his skills.

"It's always nice to come out and enjoy conditions, and get a bit of experience with the Duke ball again. It's just good to be out here and get some game time, and enjoy being with the boys - there were some special performances in this game," Philander said. "I've been pretty steady in my county stints. The wickets are a little bit flatter at this time of year, especially with the new toss rule. I've had a good run out here and hopefully I can take a few more wickets."

Before joining up with South Africa's Test squad, Philander has three more Championship matches for Sussex. His impact could be decisive if, as he expects, he continues to improve, especially as Cricket South Africa have imposed no limits on his workload. "It's only my first game back so I'd like to see myself getting better. It's not a pace issue, it's about getting through my action on a regular basis and just to bowl more overs. The more you bowl, the better you get."

On the evidence of this game, it was impossible to dispute Philander's verdict on Sussex's bowling: "a wonderful attack - there's good variety and everyone knows their job." Bowling uphill with the new ball while Philander bowled downhill, Jofra Archer continued the fine impression he made in this game with three wickets on the final day.

The dismissal of Paul Coughlin, unable to get out the way of a delivery he left on length, and clattered into his elbow and then onto his off stump, encapsulated Archer's destructive potential; so startling has his progress been that match figures of 8 for 125 and 70 off 68 balls already seem almost routine for him. Almost as impressive was his parsimony, the product of bowling a line and length as unerring as Philander's.

Chris Jordan did not take any wickets on the final day but made a sprightly return after six weeks during which he delivered a solitary over in the IPL, while David Wiese, uncomplaining in bowling at the least opportune times, snared Paul Collingwood lbw in the day's second over, even if the delivery looked to be sliding past the leg stump.

Yet one of this quartet - probably Wiese - is likely to make way for the returning Steve Magoffin for Sussex's next game, the trip to Tunbridge Wells on Friday which shapes as critical to their chances of returning to Division One. Magoffin's return is a palliative to the confirmation that another Sussex great, Ed Joyce, has played his last game for the club.

Even after the unfortunate dismissal of Collingwood, Durham showed resilience. Ryan Pringle batted 201 balls for his unbeaten 38, an innings infused with technical and mental fortitude. And James Weighell defied a nasty blow on the toe by Archer to make his maiden first-class fifty, taking 16 off a Jordan over with fluent driving.

Such resistance, however admirable, could not obscure Durham's underlying struggles - and the sense of a county under siege. Both Onions and Weighell will not travel to Swansea, where Durham play Glamorgan on Friday, and Michael Richardson will again be absent, though he is expected to return for Durham's following game. Barry McCarthy, returning from Ireland duty, will come into the side, probably alongside Gavin Main.

"It's been a tricky start to 2017. It's been difficult and we haven't fronted up as well as we would have liked. As a team we need to be better," said head coach Jon Lewis. "Our squad is not as deep as it has been in previous years, and the injury list is enough to stretch us."

On a day when Ben Stokes and Mark Wood played for England to reaffirm Durham's success in developing their own talent, Lewis admitted that Durham could look to the loan market, especially if a player signed could then be recruited permanently.

Given Durham's pace-bowling injuries, Middlesex's stockpile of pace bowlers is one potential source of new talent. It is understood that Durham are interested in recruiting Harry Podmore on loan, with a view to signing him for the longer term.

Durham 3rd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st0SC CookKK Jennings
2nd11KK JenningsCT Steel
3rd21G ClarkCT Steel
4th9PD CollingwoodG Clark
5th56PD CollingwoodRD Pringle
6th21RD PringleP Coughlin
7th8SW PoynterRD Pringle
8th69RD PringleWJ Weighell
9th9C RushworthRD Pringle
10th0G OnionsRD Pringle