County round-up: Hall leads way as Northants bring Kent's resistance to end

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The Independent Online

Kent's hopes of a quick return tothe top flight of the County Championship are already looking thin after a third defeat in four matches left them bottom of Division Two.

Relegated last season, Rob Key's side were comfortably beaten by Northamptonshire for the second time inside a month after Andrew Hall's side followed their innings and 159-run triumph at Wantage Road with a five-wicket win in Canterbury.

Kent did salvage a little honour before their visitors claimed a 24-point maximum to go second in the table behind Middlesex, who drew with Gloucestershire. After recording 320 in their second innings – their highest score of the season – Kent took five wickets before Northants reached their target of 108.

In mitigation, Kent have been badly hit by injuries, with Matt Coles, Dewald Nel, Simon Cook, Robbie Joseph and Joe Denly all ruled out. Their patched-up bowling attack included two teenagers in 18-year-old left-arm seamer Adam Ball, and Adam Riley, the 19-year-old off-spinner, as well as triallist Neil Saker.

Ball and Riley each took a wicket yesterday, the latter picking up his fifth in the match on debut when he trapped David Sales leg before. But the outcome was never in doubt and to rub salt in Kent's wounds it was two former players – Niall O'Brien and Hall – who steered the visitors home with 54 overs to spare.

Earlier, Ball had batted for 86 minutes alongside Darren Stevens in a 98-run stand for the eighth Kent wicket in a respectable 30 before he was dismissed by Chaminda Vaas. Stevens was last out for 143.

Injury problems are mounting for champions Nottinghamshire, whose draw with Yorkshire leaves them second in Division One, a point behind Lancashire. Alex Hales, their 22-year-old batsman, underwent surgery yesterday after X-rays revealed he suffered a broken jaw when he miscued an Ajmal Shahzad bouncer on Friday. Hales faces a month on the sidelines.

Notts are already without pace bowlers Andy Carter and Darren Pattinson and both Charlie Shreck (knee) and Andre Adams (triceps) face fitness tests ahead of the Championship match against Sussex at Hove, starting on Tuesday. England pair Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad will be available, however.

Rain washed out the opening session at Trent Bridge yesterday, after which Yorkshire reached 113 for 2 before setting Notts a target of 220 in 23 overs.

When Yorkshire opened their bowling with spinners Adil Rashid and Joe Root it quickly became clear that their sole object was to avoid a penalty for a slow over-rate. Once that was achieved, the players soon shook hands on a draw.

Luke Wells, the 20-year-old Sussex left-hander, scored his second century in only his fifth first-class appearance as the match against Hampshire at The Rose Bowl also ended in a draw.