Inspection looms after 23 wickets tumble
Northamptonshire 186 and 34 for 3 v Gloucestershire 86
Pitch inspector Jack Birkenshaw will return to Bristol on Friday after 23 wickets fell on the opening day of the County Championship clash between Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire.
Gemaal Hussain took 5 for 36 as the visitors were dismissed for 186, Rob White making a hugely valuable 95 on a day when all other batsmen struggled. That total was made to look reasonable by a miserable Gloucestershire batting effort that saw them skittled for 86, David Lucas returning 4 for 21 and Andrew Hall 3 for 17. By the close Northants had posted 34 for three in their second innings and led by 134.
The pitch looked green and the ball both swung and seamed around, particularly in the morning session, but Birkenshaw also noted some poor shots and will defer a decision on whether to report the surface until a further look at play tomorrow morning.
Gloucestershire skipper Alex Gidman must have smiled when he won the toss and inserted Northants in cold, cloudy conditions. After James Franklin made the first breakthrough, Hussain marked only his second Championship appearance with a spell of 3 for 8 from five overs, removing Mal Loye, David Sales and Stephen Peters.
But, having come in at 29 for 3, White launched a brilliant counter-attack aided by a couple of spilled chances. He hit five sixes and 10 fours in an exhibition out of all context with the rest of the batting. By the time he was last man out to give Hussain his fifth victim White had faced 121 deliveries, more than twice as many as any other batsman. The next highest score in the Northamptonshire's innings was Peters' 23.
The value of White's innings increased as Gloucestershire showed the same batting frailty that dogged them last season. Only Hamish Marshall (28 not out), Jonathan Batty (14) and Jon Lewis (16) reached double figures.
There were some brilliant catches, notably by Sales in the slips to dismiss Gidman and White at square leg to send back last man Steve Kirby, but the home side only had themselves to blame for a series of poor strokes. Hall dismissed Chris Taylor and Franklin with successive deliveries, the latter lbw shouldering arms, while Steve Snell contrived to be run out without facing a ball.
Lucas, who rolled Gloucestershire over twice at Cheltenham last season, bowled 7.5 overs to claim his four scalps as the hosts batted for only 24.5 overs in total.
When Northants went in again it was the same story. Peters was caught behind for a single off a steeply rising ball from Franklin and Loye was well caught by Snell at second slip off Lewis to make it eight for two. Vishal Tripathi was lbw to Hussain with the score on 23 to complete a memorable day for the 26-year-old seamer, who spent his formative years in the Bradford League and with London CC before joining Gloucestershire last season.