Fulton makes lone stand for Kent

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Warwickshire were the principal beneficiaries of a frustrating day of showers yesterday. The County Championship leaders, who begin their match at Bristol against Gloucestershire today, enjoyed their day off as news filtered through from Canterbury of the demise of their only remaining rivals for the title.

Warwickshire were the principal beneficiaries of a frustrating day of showers yesterday. The County Championship leaders, who begin their match at Bristol against Gloucestershire today, enjoyed their day off as news filtered through from Canterbury of the demise of their only remaining rivals for the title.

Kent need a resounding victory to keep it interesting at the top, but they toiled against a lively Surrey attack. Martin Bicknell led the way with three wickets in a hostile opening spell, although his opening partner Jimmy Ormond had no luck, despite persistently passing the bat. Ironically, it was only when Azhar Mahmood replaced him that wickets began to fall at the other end.

David Fulton, the Kent captain, was the only batsman to offer serious resistance. He edged a chance in the slips off Ormond when he was on 45, and soon afterwards he reached his half-century, including nine fours, off 72 balls. Fulton added just four runs after tea when he top-edged a lifting ball from Mahmood to Rikki Clarke.

Surrey, who started the day in third place in the table, are technically in danger of dropping to the Second Division, but they will fancy their chances of a third straight Championship victory, weather permitting. The Kent first innings closed at 136 for 8 after 46 overs.

Half-centuries from Ben Hutton and Owais Shah put fourth-placed Middlesex in a commanding position against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, steering their side to 182 for 2 at the close.

In the Second Division, second-placed Hampshire made an uncertain start away to Somerset as rain stopped any play before tea. They were 114 for 2 by stumps with the former England batsman John Crawley unbeaten on 32.

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