Saxelby steps up
Ian Saxelby hit a maiden half-century to help spare Gloucestershire's blushes on the first day of their LV= County Championship Division Two meeting with Northamptonshire.
The England Under-19 seamer came to the crease with the visitors reeling on 213 for seven after losing two wickets in the 73rd over, but calmly hit an unbeaten 54 off only 77 balls to steer them to 287 for eight by the close.
Until then, Northamptonshire’s bowlers had had the upper hand with David Wigley taking 4-68, although England spinner Monty Panesar endured a fruitless 13 overs, which cost 49.
After winning the toss at Wantage Road, Gloucestershire suffered an early setback when Kadeer Ali lost his off stump to David Lucas for nine.
Will Porterfield accumulated 25 in an hour’s careful batting before being caught by Ireland colleague Niall O’Brien on the leg side off Wigley in the 14th over.
New Zealand batsman Hamish Marshall had already survived one appeal before he edged a drive off Andrew Hall to Riki Wessels at gully.
Alex Gidman and Chris Taylor survived until lunch and Taylor batted fluently after the break, hitting four boundaries off Lucas and Steven Crook, including a superbly-timed clip through midwicket.
The pair were looking well set until Northamptonshire captain Nicky Boje turned to Wigley, who dismissed both batsmen courtesy of excellent catches in consecutive overs.
First, a diving Alex Wakely claimed Taylor for 32 at backward point, ending a fourth-wicket partnership worth 78.
Gidman fell for 39 after a well directed bouncer, Hall scooping the catch off his bootlaces at first slip to leave the visitors precariously placed on 136 for five.
James Franklin and Steve Snell added some quick runs and denied Northants any further success until tea, but their 77-run partnership was ended by Boje.
Franklin was trapped leg before for a fluent 38 and four balls later former skipper Jon Lewis fell in similar fashion to the same bowler.
Saxelby and wicketkeeper Snell steadied the ship by adding 49 for the eighth wicket, only for Wigley to claim his fourth wicket when Snell’s enterprising knock of 47 was ended by another excellent catch, this time from Wessels at square-leg.
Saxelby and Vikram Banerjee were fully tested by some short-pitched bowling from the Northants seamers but stood firm until the close.