The first two days of this match have seen fit and energetic bowlers – not always the case in August – getting the better of out of touch batsmen on a decent batting track. But Salt has been the exception in both innings, dominating an earnest and varied Hampshire attack to place his Sussex side in a dominating position before quick wickets fell at the end of the day to leave the result in the balance.
Salt, 24 later this month, dominated the 16-over opening partnership of 60 runs with Tom Haines, though he was fortunate not to be caught and bowled by James Fuller when he had made just 20. He lost Haines, who was lbw to Ian Holland for 20. But that didn’t put off Salt as he reached his fifty off 61 balls by lifting the off-spinner Felix Organ over square-leg for six.
He led the way as Sussex built on their slender first innings lead of 23. But with two days left in the match this was a self-restrained innings by his galloping standards.
Sussex lost their second wicket at 90, when Harry Finch was lbw to Holland for a 35-ball 10. And then Tom Clark was caught behind off Keith Barker for four to make it 99 for three in the 33rd over.
Hampshire did not turn to the leg-spinner Mason Crane, who had bowled impressively in the first innings, until Sussex were 115 for three. By now Salt had been joined by his captain Ben Brown, who scored a sprightly 25 before he was caught at short-leg from a delivery that turned and bounced from Felix Organ to make it 142 for four. Then Jack Carson was caught behind first-ball off Crane, who was causing many problems along with fellow spinner Organ.
In the penultimate over of the day Salt lost his wicket, belting Organ to Fuller at mid-on. He had faced 134 balls and hit tsix fours and a six.
Hampshire resumed in the morning on 77 for four and the first wicket fell after almost 40 minutes of play when their captain, Sam Northeast, edged Mitch Claydon and Salt took a good catch, low down, at first slip. Northeast had added just seven runs to his overnight 14.
Hampshire’s top-scorer scorer was Harry Came, with a tenacious 25 which occupied 80 minutes and 67 deliveries. He is playing only his second first-class match – his first was as a concussion substitute. He is the son of the Hampshire committee member and former second eleven player Peter Came.
His best stoke was a superbly timed clip off his legs for four runs through midwicket. But then he edged George Garton to Harry Finch at second slip to make it 119 for six.
Sussex strengthened their grip on the match in the last half hour before lunch. At 134 Lewis McManus was seventh out when he shuffled across his stumps and was lbw to the very impressive Ollie Robinson. And in the following over it became 136 for eight when Ian Holland – who had survived what would have been a miraculous catch to long leg – was bowled by Garton.
Sussex finished off the Hampshire innings within half an hour of the restart. James Fuler was caught at short midwicket and finally Keith Barker fell to Carson to give the debutant off-spinner his second wicket. Robinson and Claydon took three wickets each with the rest going to Carson and Garton.
Close of play: Sussex 176 and 155-6 lead Hampshire 153 by 178 runs.