Cricket: Loye and Warren profit

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The Independent Online
Kent 306 and 99-2 Northamptonshire 84-0 dec

The gloom that has been dogging Northamptonshire this season is not entirely to do with their position - bottom of the County Championship. It is as much to do with the appalling weather that has shadowed them around the country. They have had just 13 uninterrupted days out of 31 and there have been four complete wash-outs.

Before the start of yesterday's curtailed session Rob Bailey and his men had lost 1066 overs in the Championship. By last night that total had increased by a further 64 overs. Bailey is grimly stoical about the situation. "I think our position in the table is false. We have only been outplayed once this year, against Middlesex at Lord's. The weather has meant we have not been given any chance to get into any kind of form. It is the worst season I can remember."

Yesterday was typical of what has been happening all season. Bright sunshine while the ground is drying out, then the moment the bell sounded to announce the 4.00pm start the clouds arrived like thoroughbreds at the starting line.

They soon had umpire Dickie Bird frowning and the players squinting through the gloom trying to see the ball. The only bright spot was the fact that the Northamptonshire openers, Mal Loye and Russell Warren, compiled their highest first-wicket stand of the season in the Championship. They had passed the previous best of 55 (made against Hampshire a couple of weeks ago) before the declaration bowling began - and mercifully Bailey called the two in when Northamptonshire had moved to within 222 of the Kent first innings.

Both captains had agreed that Kent would set Northamptonshire a target of around 320 - in fact it turned out to be 322 - to win and give them a full day today to try to achieve it. Kent collected the balance in the face of some gentle bowling but at a cost of two wickets, Matthew Walker - desperately in need of Championship runs - for 23 and Matthew Fleming for a quick eight.

Trevor Ward and David Fulton saw them to the finish and, providing the weather holds, then at least a decent finish is in prospect.