County round-up: Stevens stands tall for Kent to upstage county legends

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The Independent Online

Darren Stevens may never have a stand at Canterbury named after him but the 35-year-old all-rounder was the man of the moment at the St Lawrence Ground yesterday, doing his best to upstage a couple of county legends on whom the honour was bestowed.

Derek Underwood and Alan Knott, the bowler-wicketkeeper combination responsible for more than 250 dismissals in first-class matches alone for Kent and England, were both present as the former pavilion annexe was renamed the Underwood Knott Stand.

Stevens, it should be said, has made a not inconsiderable contribution to Kent cricket since he joined the county in 2005, scoring almost 6,000 first-class runs. And while he is no "Deadly" with the ball, neither is he a mug, taking 112 wickets with his canny medium pace.

He let Surrey know just how canny he can be yesterday, taking a career-best 7 for 21 in overcast conditions that favoured swing and seam as the visitors subsided from 54 without loss to an embarrassing 127 all out. Stevens, as it happens, had revealed in his blog on the club website that while he had never met Knott, who now lives in Cyprus, he had bumped into Underwood on the golf course and found him "pretty inspiring".

Yesterday's victims included Mark Ramprakash, whose troubled season – he was given out for obstructing the field against Gloucestershire last month and subsequently suspended by Surrey for showing dissent – continued when he ran out his captain, Rory Hamilton-Brown, and was then out for a 13-ball duck, caught behind nibbling at a Stevens away-swinger. Kent took a first-innings lead of 139.

Defeat would deal a damaging blow to Surrey's hopes of keeping in touch with the Second Division promotion chase, which is gathering pace as leaders Northamptonshire meet second-placed Middlesex at Lord's.

Middlesex are feeling the pressure enough for Vinny Codrington, their chief executive, to complain that Steven Finn, who is on England Lions duty for the one-day series against Sri Lanka, would have gained more from playing in a competitive county match. Codrington would have cheered up a little, though, when Scott Newman's 75 helped Middlesex reach 123 for 1 in the 32nd over after a delayed start before the opener was run out.

First Division leaders Durham suffered more frustration with a complete washout at the Riverside, where only 30 overs have been bowled in two days.

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire have signed 22-year-old Darren Bravo, who averages 39.88 from eight Test matches for West Indies, for the remainder of the season, while his international team-mate, the fast bowler Kemar Roach, has joined Worcestershire in place of the off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.

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