Northants cruise on Sales double

Gloucestershire 358 and 31 for 0 trail Northamptonshire 369 for 3 (Sales 255*, Coetzer 122, Hall 55*) by 178 runs

David Sales' magnificent double-century helped Northamptonshire to a massive total on a rain-affected third day their Championship match against Gloucestershire. Sales' sensational knock of 255 not out off 279 balls was the third-highest score of his career as Northants eventually declared on 567 for 4, giving them a first-innings lead of 209.

Andrew Hall also contributed an unbeaten 55 off 106 deliveries and Gloucestershire then closed on 31 without loss, but with a flat wicket and a poor weather forecast for tomorrow, a draw now looks to be inevitable.

Northants began the day on 369 for 3, 11 runs ahead of their opponents, with Sales resuming on 126 and Australia international Cameron White on 6. However, rain began to fall 10 minutes before the players were due out, which led to the entire morning session being wiped out and 33 overs being lost as play finally started at 2.15pm.

White was to then add 10 runs to his overnight total before he smashed Craig Miles to Benny Howell at deep midwicket in the fifth over of the day. But Sales hung around to reach 150 for the 17th time in his first-class career off 172 balls as he and Hall piled on another 170 for Northants' fifth wicket.

The 35-year-old club stalwart was to then complete the eighth double-ton of his career off 232 deliveries by hammering a four through point off the bowling of Miles. It was the first time he had struck 200 since August 2007, when he made 219 against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay, and it helped the hosts to 493 for 4 at tea, with their lead now 135.

Gloucestershire still could not break apart the partnership in the evening as Sales reached 250 off 270 balls just before Hall completed his half-century off 102 deliveries. Northants captain Stephen Peters then waved his players off halfway through the 143rd over, leaving Gloucestershire to face 16 overs before the close of play.

Only two were possible before the umpires stopped play for bad light but thankfully the players were back out 10 minutes later with two more overs lost. Within three balls of the restart, Chris Dent was given a reprieve as he was dropped on 2 by James Middlebrook at third slip off the bowling of David Willey. He was to then last until stumps alongside his captain Michael Klinger and they will resume on Monday on 10 and 21 respectively.

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