Round-Up: Loudon leads Kent to emphatic finale

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Alex Loudon has a good pedigree: captain of Eton, Durham and England Under-19s. And yesterday he showed his ability to shoulder responsibility as he led Kent to victory over Middlesex in the County Championship First Division, thereby ensuring that his side secured the runners-up berth.

Alex Loudon has a good pedigree: captain of Eton, Durham and England Under-19s. And yesterday he showed his ability to shoulder responsibility as he led Kent to victory over Middlesex in the County Championship First Division, thereby ensuring that his side secured the runners-up berth.

Matthew Walker, another former Under-19s skipper who is now in his thirties, became the third centurion for the home side at Canterbury as Kent posted 535, giving them a lead of 300.

Jamie Dalrymple managed to pick up 4 for 66 with his off-spin, and Middlesex then saw the damage that turn could inflict when Loudon began to purvey his off-breaks. Middlesex's captain, Ed Joyce, led the resistance with 74 but he had little support and the 24-year-old reaped career-best figures of 6 for 47. Joyce being the last wicket to fall on 251 as his side lost by an innings and 49 runs.

At Hove, the champions of 2003, Sussex, and the side who before them had the stranglehold, Surrey, were evenly poised after the first innings. The visitors progressed to 260 for 6 amid the showers with Ally Brown undefeated on 93.

Champions Warwickshire could afford to take it easy at Northampton and were bowled out for less than 300 for the first time this season by the bottom-placed side. Number eight Dougie Brown was unbeaten on 108 as the visitors were dismissed for 295, South African paceman Johann Louw claiming 5 for 93 in what has been a prolific season for the 25-year-old in his first taste of county cricket. The hosts replied with 233 for 7, rookie seamer Nick Warren taking 3 for 1 in 10 balls on his Championship debut.

It was raining tears at Old Trafford as no play was possible between Lancashire and Gloucestershire, leaving the hosts, erstwhile favourites for the pennant, to contemplate the ignominy of relegation.

Like Warwickshire, Second Division champions Nottinghamshire were easing up at Trent Bridge but still seeking a win even though Essex had reached 500, Graham Napier - a number eight like Brown - smashed 106 not out off 85 balls with 14 fours and three sixes, a career-best score.

Part of the England Under-19 side who won the Youth World Cup in South Africa in 1998, he was selected for the Academy tour of India last winter and made a preliminary pool of 30 for the Champions Trophy. Nottinghamshire then declared on 301 for 6 after Australian David Hussey had scored 124 not out, his seventh century of a fine debut season.

After the Hampshire rookie Chris Benham had impressed at Derby, it was the turn of Zimbabwean all-rounder Greg Lamb to find his feet on his county debut. The 24-year-old graduate of Zimbabwe's Academy made 94 as promoted Hampshire made 396, Graeme Welch's medium pace returning 5 for 57 for Derbyshire.

The third promoted team, Glamorgan, posted 410 against Yorkshire at Headingley and reduced the hosts to 104 for 4, a lead of 95. No play was possible between Leicestershire and Somerset due to rain.

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