Phil Salt played the innings of his young life at Hove to place promotion chasing Sussex in a dominant position in their Specsavers County Championship Division Two match against Derbyshire.
Salt, 22 next week, struck 14 fours and five sixes in his 138-ball 148 as Sussex pursued quick pre-declaration runs against a depleted bowling attack. They eventually declared on 353 for six to give themselves seven overs to bowl at Derbyshire, who had been set a total of 405 to win, more runs than they had ever made in a fourth innings. At the close they were six without loss.
Salt, who was also in blistering form in the vital T20 win over Middlesex last Friday, said: “I’d love to say that I planned to come out and strike at the rate I did but it just happened. The bowlers are quick so when they missed their lengths it helped the scoring rate.
"Luke Wells was going quickly as well. They could have bowled better at us but myself and Luke capitalised on that really well. I’m still learning but I have some momentum and hopefully I can take that into the Vitality Blast quarter-finals against Durham.”
Sussex were 25 for no wicket at lunch and in the afternoon session piled on another 191. Salt alone scored 108 between lunch and tea. Derbyshire were without the services of Ravi Rampaul, who had left the field with breathing difficulties on the opening afternoon.
Salt’s opening partner, Luke Wells, could hardly be accused of slow scoring, after hitting ten fours and a six in a 102-ball 78 in a first wicket stand worth 191 in just 32 overs. But Salt, who hit Tony Palladino for two fours immediately before his dismissal, one with a cheeky ramp shot, was the hero of the Sussex innings before he was bowled heaving across the line.
In a single over from New Zealand international fast bowler Lockie Ferguson he drove the fast bowler back over his head for four to raise the Sussex fifty before striking two sixes, one over square-leg and out of the ground into the adjoining flats and another top-edge over the third-man boundary.
Salt scored his maiden championship century against Durham at Arundel in June. Unusually for one so young his sporting hero is Sir Garfield Sobers. He lived in Barbados when a boy and admits to once picking up Sir Garry’s Indian takeaway by accident.
In the morning Sussex had won a second innings lead of 51 after bowling Derbyshire out for 389. Derbyshire resumed on 315 for five, still 125 runs behind. Sussex took the new ball after just three overs and after a quick double strike might have anticipated had bigger advantage.
Ollie Robinson took the first wicket in the ninth over of the day when Matt Critchley chopped on for just eight and in the bowler’s following over the other overnight batsman, Alex Hughes, edged to Salt at third slip.
Derbyshire’s eighth wicket pair of Daryn Smit and Palladino added 41 before David Wiese wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Palladino and Ferguson in two balls. With Rampaul absent their innings was at an end. And then they had Salt rubbed into their wounds.