Wakely century revives Northants
Leicestershire 30 for 3 trail Northamptonshire 325 (Wakely 123, McKay 5-54) by 295 runs
Alex Wakely's first-class best 123 led Northamptonshire from danger on the opening day at Wantage Road. From 42 for 4, Northants recovered to post 325 against Leicestershire. Three wickets late in the day as the visitors began their reply completed the comeback.
Mark Cosgrove's decision to bowl first initially paid dividends when Clint McKay struck four times in the opening hour but Wakely settled and went through to his fourth first-class century, helping his side to a healthy total but perhaps only a par score on a good batting surface.
Wakely looked in superb touch from the start of his innings with a delightful back-foot drive off Ben Raine and an imperious pull against Wayne White among the 10 fours that he scored in reaching his fifty from 68 balls. He survived a strong shout for lbw on 52 and was becalmed in the hour after the lunch break. But he began to move his tally along again, opening the face to run White towards vacant third man, and a second pull stroke took him to 90. Clipping the off spin of Rob Sayer through midwicket nudged him three away from a century and a paddle sweep brought up his fourth first-class hundred with his 18th boundary.
It was Wakeley's second century in four Championship matches, made in similar circumstances to his first of the season at Cheltenham six weeks ago with his side also in trouble. Here, he shared stands of 71 with Josh Cobb, 78 with Steven Crook and 69 with David Murphy to make good progress throughout the afternoon.
Northants could well have been shot out for far fewer after the Australian McKay took four wickets in his opening eight-over spell. He struck in his second and third overs to remove both Northants openers. First the in-form Ben Duckett was lbw to an inswinging yorker and then Rob Newton, pushing hard at a ball swinging across him, got a leading edge to mid-off and fell for just 9 in his first Championship match since June.
Two further wickets fell in the first hour. Both Rob Keogh, trying to leave, and Richard Levi, attempting a cut, dragged into their own stumps. Wakely and Cobb settled the situation but a dropped catch by Angus Robson at first slip - Cobb on 11 - was a sliding-doors moment. It would have given McKay a fifth wicket shortly after lunch. As it was Cobb saw off McKay and the Leicestershire back-up bowling was not as incisive. An injury to Raine did not help; he limped off having taken a knock diving for a catch at long-on.
Cobb only added 19 after being dropped but Steven Crook, after his whirlwind first-class best against Australia last weekend, continued the counter-attack. He flicked his first ball for four through midwicket, and immediately took on the offspin of Sayer, slog-sweeping him over midwicket. But having late-cut his eighth four, he skipped down to Sayer, missed, and was stumped for 40 in 31 balls.
Overall, the last six Northants wickets added 283 with Rory Kleinveldt making 43 to push Northants to a third batting point.
And they were able to apply pressure in the 15 overs they had to bowl at Leicestershire late in the day. Lewis Hill failed to deal with a rising Kleinveldt delivery that he gloved down the leg side and the same bowler produced a good delivery to square up Ned Eckersley and take out his off stump for a duck. A third wicket fell five overs from the close with Sam Robson chasing a wide ball and edging behind. Leicestershire closed 295 runs behind.