Hall century builds Northants' lead
Northamptonshire 429 for 7 (Hall 141*, Middlebrook 50*, Stevens 2-49) v Kent 202
Northamptonshire captain Andrew Hall struck a magnificent century to put Kent to the sword on the second day of the County Championship Division Two clash at Wantage Road. Former South Africa international Hall's superb knock of 141 not out off 239 balls included 14 fours and four sixes and is the 12th ton of his first-class career.
He was part of a sixth-wicket partnership of 114 with wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien, who blasted 71 off 101 balls, which tilted the match firmly in Northamptonshire's favour as they recovered from 124 for 5 to reach 429 for 7 at the close.
They began the day on 86 for 3, 116 runs behind Kent, who they bowled out for just 202 yesterday, with Mal Loye resuming on 42 and David Sales on 14. Loye became the first batsman in the match to make a half-century, his coming off 131 balls, in the third over of the day. But he walked two overs later on 51 when he was trapped lbw by paceman Robbie Joseph and Sales later went in the same fashion for 31 off the bowling of Darren Stevens.
Hall and O'Brien, both former Kent men, then made the first 50 partnership of the match between them as they guided their team to 187 for 5 at lunch. Hall ran two to put Northamptonshire ahead in the 79th over before Ireland international O'Brien reached 50 off 89 balls with a four smashed through cover.
Joseph then claimed a vital breakthrough for Kent by pinning O'Brien lbw in the fourth over after the second new ball was taken. Hall went on to complete his half-century off 115 balls later in that over as he and Chaminda Vaas added 50 between them before tea to leave the hosts on 288 for 6.
Hall was given a reprieve on 85 in the seventh over of the evening session when his attempted sweep off James Tredwell came off Kent wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and was dropped by Martin van Jaarsveld at slip. But Vaas (27) did not survive when he became the fifth Northamptonshire player to be given out lbw, this time off the bowling of Matt Coles, to end a partnership of 77.
Hall then reached his century off 211 balls with a four through extra cover off Coles before James Middlebrook reached 50 off 70 deliveries by launching Joe Denly for six over square leg. The eighth-wicket pair added 114 runs between them with Middlebrook finishing the day unbeaten on 50 with the hosts utterly dominant.