Fulton bears burden of England's woes

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The Independent Online

This is the match in which a middling Englishman finally shook off a relentless Aussie challenger to take the highest ground. Northamptonshire's overseas recruit, Mike Hussey, had scored the most runs in the County Championship this summer, 1,310, before the game began with Kent's David Fulton eight runs behind him.

In the first innings, Hussey was run out on 35 just as he found his stride; Fulton, meanwhile, made 197 off 252 balls with 27 fours and a six. As if by design, it took Hussey's occasional dibbly-dobblers to ensnare him three runs short of a double-century, so there was no need for Fulton to act as a shoulder to cry on following his winter writing as an "agony uncle" on an Australian women's magazine.

In their previous matches, Hussey hit a career-best 329 not out and a match-winning unbeaten 70; Fulton scored 208 not out and 104 not out. But while Hussey was rewarded for five prolific years since leaving Rod Marsh's Academy with an Australian Cricket Board contract, Fulton's last nine seasons have been rather mediocre and, at 29, there seemed little chance of a call-up if the selectors had even half an eye on the future.

Kent resumed on 202 for 1 seeking maximum batting points in this First Division clash at Wantage Road. Then they declared on 464 for 4, Ed Smith contributing 91 and Australia's Andrew Symonds racing to 131 off 129 balls with 17 fours and a six. Northamptonshire, who are facing relegation, had to struggle for their solitary bowling point.

In the lower reaches of the Second Division, Worcestershire needed a further 312 to beat Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. The visitors were also looking for revenge. In their game earlier this season Nottinghamshire made 461 for 3, a record last-innings total to win a Championship match.

Resuming on 9 for 0, several batsmen flattered to deceive with Anurag Singh and Vikram Solanki both scoring 43 and Andy Bichel 42 off 37 balls. Once the Australian all-rounder was gone, his side were left teetering on the brink of defeat at 253 for 9. Nadeem Malik, the England Under-19 paceman, impressed on his first-class debut.