Kent’s second win in as many matches took them to second place in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two, and left Sussex reflecting on defeat in their opening game.
They beat Sussex by 226 runs at Hove, with Darren Stevens following his two fifties with bowling figures of five for 51. This was his second five wicket analysis of the season after he failed to achieve the feat once in 2016.
After 24 overs had been lost on the penultimate day, Kent declared at their overnight score of 413 for five. That set Sussex an academic 427 to win.
They looked capable of survival when they reached 59 without loss, but then they lost six wickets for 24 runs in just 12 overs as Stevens, 41, produced a decisive spell on his way to his 14th five-wicket haul in first- class cricket. It was 20 years ago – on April 18, 1997 – that he made his first-class debut.
He had Harry Finch caught at second slip off the shoulder of the bat before having Chris Nash caught behind with a fine delivery that lifted and left the batsman. He then had Stiaan van Zyl caught at first slip before dismissing Laurie Evans, half-forward, lbw for two following his first innings duck on his county debut.
Mitch Claydon had Luke Wright lbw, playing across the line, and when Stevens took his fifth wicket, having Delray Rawlins caught behind, Sussex were 83 for six.
After lunch, David Wiese top-edged his pull off Coles to Daniel Bell-Drummond at deep square-leg and Vernon Philander was well caught by Joe Denly at midwicket off the same bowler. Coles picked up his third when he had Jofra Archer caught at first slip and the match ended when Ajmal Shahzad cut Wayne Parnell to Denly at point.
Sussex were all out for 200, but Ben Brown, who scored 90 in the first innings, was unbeaten on 69 from 67 deliveries.
Kent captain Sam Northeast said: “We played some really good cricket last year and now we’ve gone up another notch.'
Sussex’s Ben Brown said: “It’s disappointing. We know we can do a lot better than that. We had no luck in the game and when Vernon Philander got injured it was a big blow. And we have a tough weekend coming up with our match at Notts.”