ALFONSO Thomas made Somerset cricketing history when he took four wickets in four balls against Sussex at the County Ground on Tuesday, writes Richard Walsh.

His exploits helped to see the Cidermen to a six-wicket victory with a day to spare, a result that put them top of the table at the half-way stage of the season.

Not only is the popular 37-year-old the first Somerset player to have achieved the feat in the club’s history, he is the first to have performed it at the County Ground.

At the start of the third day the game looked evenly poised, with many believing it was heading for a draw.

But that was before Thomas bowled his magic spell which saw Sussex tumble from 33-0 to 33-5 in the space of just ten balls.

Thomas bowled James Anyon off an inside edge with the fourth ball of the 17th over of the innings – the sixth of the day.

He then trapped Rory Hamilton-Brown leg before wicket with the fifth and with the last ball of the over had Ed Joyce caught by wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter.

Pete Trego bowled the next over and claimed the wicket of Chris Nash, caught by James Hildreth at first slip looking to drive.

Thomas wasn’t done yet and with the first ball of his next over he yorked Matt Machan to make it four in four.

When Thomas finally took his jumper Sussex had moved on to 41-5 with the paceman having figures of 4-11 from his six overs of the morning session.

At the end of a day when he wrote his name into the Somerset record books Thomas said: “Today has got to be right up there for me. I have had a lot of nerve-wracking moments with Somerset, and been involved with bowl-outs, so it was just nice to take four wickets and I was very happy to do that.

“This is my first, First Class hat-trick, my first as a professional cricketer and to then take four and be one of only a few to have done it is good. I have never seen anything like that all the time that I have played and I am just really happy with the performance and to take four in four was a fantastic special day for me.”

How Thomas’s achievement compares: THE feat has only been achieved on 39 previous occasions in the history of First Class cricket in the world.

Four in four has only been achieved 18 times in the County Championship, the last time being by Gary Butcher for Surrey against Derbyshire at the Oval in 2000.

Somerset have been on the receiving end of this feat four times – the last time by Albert Trott who achieved it bowling for Middlesex at Lord’s as long ago as 1907.

Only 16 players have taken a hat-trick for Somerset. The last three were Simon Francis against Loughborough at the County Ground in 2003, Jason Kerr against West Indies in 2000, and Marcus Trescothick against the Young Australians in 1995.

The most recent Somerset hat-trick in the Championship was by Harvey Trump away at Gloucestershire in 1992.