Kent's batsman probably knew what was coming when James Kirtley was released from the England squad yesterday morning.

And sure enough, the Sussex fast bowler needed just five overs before taking out his frustration on them after he was omitted from the Test side for the second time in a fortnight.

Kirtley caught an earlier than expected flight from Newcastle to Gatwick and completed his journey to Tunbridge Wells by car.

He had his limbs loosened by the Sussex phyiso Stuart Osborne, bowled a couple of warm-up overs in the nets and, 40 minutes after arriving at the Nevill Ground, trotted onto the outfield to a ripple of sympathetic applause, pausing only to offer a word of consolation to Paul Hutchison, the man he was nominated to replace.

'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' was in his element on the boundary. He felt Sussex had bent the rules because Hutchison had bowled five overs before going off. But the key phrase in the new regulations which were only introduced this season is that substitutes are 'ready to play.'

It would have been asking too much to expect Kirtley to step out of a car, get changed and then charge in straight away and risk serious injury because he had not warmed-up.

Kirtley took seven wickets here last season and a match-winning 9-67 when the teams met at Hove in April and had soon made the breakthrough when he had Michael Carberry taken at gully as he pushed forward in the last over before tea.

He struck again in his eighth over, winning a leg before verdict when Ed Smith shuffled across his stumps and was desperately close to making it 32 wickets for the season. Greg Blewett was dropped at second slip by Chris Adams in his second over while Andrew Symonds later offered no shot and was relieved to see umpire David Shepherd keep his hands in his pocket.

In between Kirtley's double strike, Kevin Innes was rewarded for a good spell with the wicket of Blewett, albeit in fortunate circumstances when the Australian opener's defensive push squirted off his bat and onto the stumps.

The feeling from both sides was that Sussex's first innings 311 was well over par and that view was reinforced late in the day when Mushtaq got to work on a pitch which traditionally gives increasing assistance to the slow bowlers.

The leg-spinner ended a rollicking fourth wicket alliance of 90 in 21 overs between Symonds and Matthew Walker in his fourth over when Symonds, who had hit ten fours in his 62-ball 54, holed out trying to clear the long off boundary.

Walker padded up to silly point two balls later, leaving Kent 188-5 from 51 overs.

Earlier, Robin Martin-Jenkins had organised some solid resistance from their lower order with the last five wickets adding 137.

Martin-Jenkins' 67, his third successive half-century, included eight fours and a six.

There were entertaining supporting roles from Kevin Innes, Matt Prior and Mushtaq who put on 62 with Innes for the ninth wicket before he was caught off the helmet ducking into Martin Saggers' bouncer. Even Hutchison did his bit, making 18 as nightwatchman, but once again the story was all about the man who replaced him.