Cricket: Brown aids a timely lift-off

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The Independent Online
DURHAM ACHIEVED their first win of the season - and climbed off the bottom of the County Championship table - as Simon Brown's five wickets helped bowl out Northamptonshire on Saturday.

The left-arm seamer took 5 for 99 at Northampton as the home side lost by 45 runs. Set 344 to win, David Sales, who top-scored with 84, Graeme Swann and Russell Warren played important innings, but consistent bowling by Brown, Steve Harmison and John Wood saw Northamptonshire fall short. Durham leapfrog Worcestershire in the table and the perennial strugglers are only one point behind Lancashire with a game in hand.

Mark Alleyne steadied the Gloucestershire ship to guide his side to their first Championship win of the season at the expense of their neighbours Somerset.

On a tense final day at Bath, Gloucestershire bowled out the home side for 351, leaving a modest victory target of 144. A key stand of 67 between Alleyne and Tim Hancock steadied Gloucestershire's nerve after they had plunged to 20 for 3 and they got home by three wickets, having looked in peril again at 116 for 6. Andy Caddick maintained hostility for 25 overs, taking 4 for 55, but his efforts proved in vain.

Sussex's Championship game against Kent had to be abandoned as a draw just when the visitors were digging in at Hove to save the game. Kent, facing a target of 318, were 42 without loss when rain cut short their innings after 18.2 overs. The uncapped openers Robert Key and Ed Smith were taking no chances as Kent looked set to play for a draw when the weather intervened.

Umer Rashid had earlier hit a career-best 73 off 145 balls as Sussex declared shortly after lunch on 317 for 8.

Leicestershire, the champions, preserved their four-year unbeaten home record thanks to a massive helping hand from the weather. Their match was abandoned as a draw in mid-afternoon without a ball being bowled on the final day, after steady rain had left the Grace Road pitch waterlogged.

It was a frustrating sight for Surrey, the Championship leaders, who were robbed of the chance of their fifth win in a row, but they had some consolation in that the 12 points they collected from the drawn game kept them at the top of the table.