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Duckett sets positive tone but Northants let it slip

Northamptonshire 343 (Newton 70, Levi 56, Duckett 52) v Gloucestershire

Fifties for Rob Newton, Richard Levi and Ben Duckett helped Northamptonshire enjoy the better of the opening day against Gloucestershire at Wantage Road as they were bowled out for 343 but they should have been in a more dominant position.

It was a solid day for the hosts but the top six all got set only to fall in series of poor dismissals with several catches in front of the bat. Having been 153 for 1 and later 269 for 4 four overs before the second new ball, they slid to 315 for 9 before debutant Simon Kerrigan made an unbeaten 26.

Gloucestershire picked themselves up after a very poor morning session and could have faced a far more punishing day in the field. But their three seamers, David Payne, Liam Norwell and Craig Miles, made a smart comeback sharing seven wickets.

Duckett was the first of the half-centurions. Making the quick transition from Saturday's T20 where he made a career-best unbeaten 92, he made a 46-ball fifty here. He flicked two boundaries through square leg off David Payne before imperiously driving him through extra-cover.

Another leg-side flick, this off Craig Miles, brought his side's 50 up in just the ninth over of the morning. Duckett helped himself to 10 boundaries before lifting a drive from Miles to extra-cover to fall for 52. But his bright start saw Northants rattle to lunch 153 for 1.

Duckett's opening partner Newton was badly dropped at point on 30 off Jack Taylor shelled an easy chance but went on to drive the offspin of 18-year-old debutant George Drissell through the covers for his eighth boundary to raise fifty in 80 balls. Newton went to lunch 70 not out but was caught at short-midwicket second over into the afternoon.

Alex Wakely, also badly dropped - by Iain Cockbain at mid-off on 45 - added four more before pushing at a ball from left-armer Payne that slid across him and he got a thin edge to wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick. Wakely fell just after the first hour after lunch where 16 runs came in 16 overs.

A stand of 68 between Levi and Rob Keogh put Northants into a good position after tea at 269 for 4 in fairly benign conditions against the older ball. Keogh played a perfectly-timed flick through midwicket to bring up the second batting bonus but when he lazily chipped the part-time offspin of Taylor to short midwicket, the innings fell away.

Levi was the third player to pass fifty, playing very smartly for his 59-ball half-century including a cover drive that was perhaps the shot of the day. But he was well caught at slip trying to run Payne to third man, Adam Rossington pulled Liam Norwell straight to midwicket for just 5 and Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Gleeson were both caught at the wicket driving loosely outside off stump.

Just when Northants were about to be rolled over Kerrigan slapped Kieran Noema-Barnett down the ground and over midwicket for boundaries and smashed Payne over long-on to almost deliver a fourth batting bonus point.