Middlebrook finishes all-round show
James Middlebrook capped his fine performance with a five-wicket haul that took Northamptonshire to a dramatic second LV= County Championship Division Two win of the season against Gloucestershire.
The hosts declared on 246 for five at the start of the day to give their opponents a target of 390, which proved inconsequential as they were dismissed for 268.
Middlebrook, who scored 121 as a makeshift opener in the hosts' first innings, sealed a 121-run victory - and figures of 5-63 - with two minutes of the match remaining when he trapped Liam Norwell lbw.
Gloucestershire’s opening pairing of Benny Howell and Chris Dent easily made it through the first hour of the day as they piled on 101 for the first wicket.
The former was given a reprieve on 25 when he was dropped by Lee Daggett at mid-off having launched Middlebrook high into the air.
He then went on to complete an assured half-century off 83 balls by smashing the off-spinner down the ground for six.
Dent, however, was to fall on 38 when he edged South African spinner Con de Lange to wicketkeeper David Murphy, giving the hosts a much-needed breakthrough.
Gloucestershire resumed on 119 for one after lunch, but lost Kane Williamson for 10 as he was superbly caught at short leg by Kyle Coetzer off Middlebrook.
It was suddenly game on when Howell walked on 70 after edging a loose shot to Murphy off David Willey.
Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman was the next to fall; he missed his attempted sweep off Middlebrook to be bowled.
The visitors now knew victory was beyond them, but Northamptonshire’s tails were raised further when captain Andrew Hall trapped Ian Cockbain lbw.
Gloucestershire limped in to tea on 190 for five but were six down in the fourth over of the evening session as Will Gidman's middle stump was sent spinning by Willey after he made 16.
Hamish Marshall, who struck an unbeaten 117 in the visitors’ first innings, did his best to steady things with a half-century off 97 balls.
But he was running out of partners, with Jonathan Batty being pinned in front by Hall before Marshall himself departed on 61 in the same manner to Middlebrook.
Middlebrook then bowled Ed Young before sealing the 11th five-wicket haul of his first-class career by dismissing Norwell just in the nick of time.