Crook's five not enough for Middlesex
Middlesex 317 and 58 for 4 v Northamptonshire 399
Steven Crook returned only the second five-wicket haul of his first-class career against Northamptonshire - the county that let him go two years ago - but could not prevent the Division Two leaders taking control against second-placed Middlesex at Lord's.
A responsible half-century from Niall O'Brien helped the visitors gain a first innings lead of 82 before Chaminda Vaas, who had taken five wickets against his former county in the first innings, trapped Middlesex openers Scott Newman and Sam Robson leg before wicket.
Then Andrew Hall claimed Dawid Malan lbw and had Neil Dexter brilliantly caught by Rob White at second slip in the space of three balls and Middlesex closed on 58 for 4, 24 runs behind.
Crook, a 28-year-old fast-medium bowler who was born in Australia but has a British passport through his English parents, did not play at all last season but was given the chance to resurrect his career by Middlesex after a trial during the winter.
He had already taken two wickets when Northamptonshire resumed at 188 for 2, 129 runs behind, and swung the ball at a good pace to pick up three more wickets and finish with five for 94 from 19 overs. Mal Loye added only seven to his overnight 80 before he was caught behind pushing forward to Tim Murtagh and after that the Northamptonshire batting was a curious mixture of obdurate defence from Alex Wakely and flashing strokeplay from Rob Newton, Hall and James Middlebrook.
They all threw the bat and all perished to Crook, Newton miscuing a hook to midwicket, Hall edging to first slip and Middlebrook driving to cover where he was superbly caught by Dexter diving to his left. In between times, Wakely, who was strokeless for long periods as he spent two hours 10 minutes adding 20 to his overnight 12, was finally undone by a good ball from Corey Collymore which took out his off stump.
Northamptonshire were still four runs behind at 313 for 7 but O'Brien, the Ireland wicketkeeper, curbed his attacking instincts and went on to make 50 off 88 balls - including six fours - before Jamie Dalrymple had him caught at mid-off.
Vaas, who had joined O'Brien in an eighth wicket stand of 38, and Lee Daggett then added another 39 and by the time Middlesex went in again a sunny afternoon had turned cloudy and created ideal conditions for the swing of Vaas.