Gloucestershire escape penalty but face defeat
Gloucestershire 86 and 85 for 2 v Northamptonshire 186 and 243
Jack Brooks hit a timely first half-century in County Championship cricket to put Northamptonshire in a strong position on the second day at Bristol. Gloucestershire looked to be back in the game after the action-packed opening day when reducing their opponents to 134 for 8 in their second innings, a lead of 234.
But Brooks (53) was joined by Paul Harrison (44) in a ninth-wicket stand of 82 and Northamptonshire were eventually bowled out for 243, leaving Gloucestershire a daunting 344 for victory on a pitch still offering plenty of assistance to the seamers.
The home side closed on 85 for 2 and will need to bat a lot better than in their first innings to amass the 259 still required. ECB pitch inspector Jack Birkenshaw decided not to recommend any points deduction for Gloucestershire, having deferred his decision after seeing 23 wickets fall on the first day.
Admitting it was a borderline decision, Birkenshaw took into account some poor batting and the fact that the surface played better as the game progressed. Northamptonshire began on 34 for 3 and progressed to 75 before nightwatchman David Lucas drove a catch to mid-off, having made a valuable 31.
Gemaal Hussain made the breakthrough on his way to returning four for 62 and match figures of nine for 98 on only his second Championship appearance. First-innings hero Rob White fell for ten to a fine catch by Chris Taylor at backward point off Hussain, but Northamptonshire went into lunch at 124 for 5, with their lead 224.
The match swung again as Andy Hall (19), Nicky Boje (four) and David Sales (39) were dismissed in the space of 12 balls, Jon Lewis claiming two of the wickets. But Brooks and Harrison then played with freedom and increasing confidence, both profiting from a dropped chance in recording their highest Championship scores.
Harrison's 54-ball innings featured four fours and a six. By the time he was bowled by James Franklin the lead was beyond 300 and Brooks went on to reach his fifty off 85 balls, with six fours. The 25-year-old former Oxfordshire player, who joined the Northamptonshire staff for last season, was last man out having put his side in a winning position.
Gloucestershire soon lost opener Jonathan Batty, caught behind for six, but Championship debutant Chris Dent (23) helped Abdul-Kadeer Ali add 44 for the second wicket before being caught at short-leg off Boje.