Wakely shepherds Northants chase
Northamptonshire moved back into contention for promotion from LV= County Championship Division Two by upsetting the odds with a four-wicket win against Worcestershire at New Road.
Successfully chasing 223 on the third afternoon, they completed an outstanding recovery after trailing by 129 on first innings on an unpredictable pitch.
Having bowled out the home side for 93 in their second innings - the third lowest total in the Championship this summer - they sealed their sixth victory of the season after a mature performance by Alex Wakely.
The former England Under-19 batsman made a crucial 68 with 12 fours, and after losing three wickets in quick succession, Northamptonshire eased over the line with two fours from David Murphy in the second over after tea.
Wakely, at 21, is still making his way in the first-class game but he was not lacking in composure after beginning his innings when Richard Jones pounced from cover to run out Ben Howgego for the second time in the match.
Initially watchful in a valuable stand of 45 with Stephen Peters, Wakely successfully resisted the main challenge from Matt Mason and Alan Richardson.
The veteran seamers were again a handful in helpful conditions, but Peters made an important 37 before jabbing the fifth ball of Richardson’s second spell to Daryl Mitchell at second slip.
The match then took a decisive turn as David Sales bounced back from a first-ball dismissal on the previous day. Gradually finding his timing to hit eight fours, the former captain made 46 until he was lbw to a full-length delivery from Mason.
This could have been a damaging blow for a side missing a number of senior batsmen, but Rob Newton more than proved he was up to the task.
Born in Somerset and brought up in East Anglia, the 20-year-old completed a productive debut with scores of 23 and 33.
Although there was some turn to help Worcestershire, Shakib Al Hasan was unable to make an impact when bowling 10 overs for 35 runs. Instead, it was off-spinner Moeen Ali who removed Wakely with a catch at short-leg by Alexei Kervezee.
There were still some alarms before the job was completed. Like Howgego, Andrew Hall was run out for a second time and Newton was caught behind in the following over from James Cameron.
Earlier, Northants kept their target within reasonable bounds by mopping up Worcestershire’s last two wickets for the addition of 21 runs.
Hall claimed a 35th birthday success when Mason, attempting to pull, edged to the wicketkeeper after driving a six off James Middlebrook.
Even then, the former Essex off-spinner had conceded only 23 runs when Jones became his third victim, leg before to the second ball of his 10th over as he finished with 3-23.