Northants poised for comfortable win
Will Gidman’s heroics with the bat look certain to be in vain after Jack Brooks put Northamptonshire firmly on course for victory in their LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Gloucestershire.
The hosts were bowled out for 288 in their first innings at Bristol, a deficit of 269, with Brooks taking 4-54 and Gidman making 116 not out, his maiden first-class century.
The same two players were to the fore when Gloucestershire followed on, Brooks claiming 3-43 and Gidman scoring an unbeaten 76 in a total of 248 for eight, where he was well supported by Jon Lewis, who plundered 59 off 49 balls down the order.
Despite Gidman’s efforts, his side go into the final day still 21 runs behind and will probably require assistance from the weather if they are to save the match.
Gloucestershire began day three on 172 for seven in their first innings in response to Northants’ mammoth 557, with Gidman on 72 not out, and did well to secure two batting points.
Lewis and 16-year-old Craig Miles shared in stands of 43 and 59 respectively in support of the left-hander, who reached his hundred off 176 balls, with 15 fours.
David Lucas finished with 3-72, but 26-year-old Brooks caught the eye by getting more bounce than any other bowler out of a placid pitch and was soon impressing again when Gloucestershire followed on.
The home team’s top order once more looked fragile as they slumped to 73 for six. Brooks had Richard Coughtrie and Kane Williamson caught by Andrew Hall at first slip and clean-bowled Alex Gidman with a yorker.
Lucas had struck first, trapping opener Ian Cockbain lbw for seven, and later dismissed Jon Batty for his second duck of the match. Lee Daggett weighed in with the important wicket of Chris Taylor and a three-day finish looked likely.
But Will Gidman returned to the crease less than two hours of playing time after walking off unbeaten in the first innings and again put his colleagues to shame.
Making prolific use of the cut and clip off his toes, the 27-year-old former Durham all-rounder eased his way to a half-century off 69 balls, with nine fours, and shared a seventh-wicket stand of 90 with Ian Saxelby.
That ended when Saxelby was bowled by James Middlebrook for 24 with five more overs remaining in the day. Gidman was dropped on 57 by David Sales at backward point off Lucas, and when Northamptonshire claimed the extra half-hour, Lewis responded by hitting Middlebrook for six over midwicket.
Lewis barely played a defensive shot in breezing to a half-century off just 39 balls, with five fours and two sixes, before being bowled by Andrew Hall, having shared a stand of 80 with Gidman who stood firm to the end.