Kerrigan has Sussex in a spin as Northants close in on crucial victory at Hove
Northants go into the fourth and final day of their clash with Sussex knowing a win could send them up to second place in Group 3 of the LV= Insurance County Championship.
The County are well set on 131 for two chasing 218 to win at Hove, and with Yorkshire struggling in the Roses match against Lancashire at Old Trafford, it could turn out to be a very good day for David Ripley's men.
Left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan was the star man on Saturday as he continued his good start to the season with five for 70, and despite Tom Haines’ second hundred of the season Sussex were bowled out for 298 in their second innings.
That left the County more than four sessions to score 218 and they were reached stumps needing another 87 to win.
Haines made an excellent 103 – the first Championship hundred by a Sussex player at Hove for two years – and Ben Brown was last out for 95 trying to hit a six to get to his century.
Sussex had resumed on 142 for four and Haines and Brown took their fifth-wicket stand to 103 but shortly after reaching the fourth hundred of his career, Haines turned a ball from Kerrigan to mid-wicket. It was a somewhat tame end to a fine innings by the 22-year-old left-hander, who faced 221 balls and hit 11 fours.
Tom Taylor picked up two wickets in successive balls with Delray Rawlins (15) bowled aiming a big drive and George Garton edging low to first slip.
But Jack Carson, fresh from his maiden first-class fifty in the first innings, gave Brown admirable support either side of lunch in an eighth-wicket stand of 65 which took the score to 297.
The luckless Ben Sanderson could not break through with the second new ball but Kerrigan came to the rescue. Carson was pinned in front playing back for 35 before Taylor yorked Henry Crocombe in the next over for a duck.
That left Brown on 95 with only last man Jamie Atkins for company and he went for glory, only to be caught on the long-off boundary. The Sussex captain faced 170 balls and hit ten fours.
Although the odd ball did turn, the pitch had got easier to bat on. Sussex needed early wickets and Atkins got them a breakthrough in his first over when Ben Curran (10), whose nine innings this season have brought only 141 runs, was caught behind aiming an expansive drive.
Vasconcelos and Luke Procter took the score to 57 with few alarms before Haines enjoyed his second memorable moment of the day, running round from mid-wicket to run out Vasconcelos (38) with a brilliant direct hit.
But Luke Procter (47 not out) and Rob Keogh (23 not out) settled the nerves with an unbroken third-wicket stand of 73 to put their side in sight of victory.
County seamer Taylor said: “I feel we have worked hard to get in this position for the whole game.
"We had an excellent last session with the bat and hopefully we can finish things off.
"To be fair to Sussex, they batted well in periods and we didn’t take our chances but the game has ebbed and flowed.
"I was pleased to play my part with the three wickets and hopefully we can come out on top.”