Contest meandering to inevitable stalemate

Kyle Coetzer in action during Northants' first innings

Kyle Coetzer in action during Northants' first innings

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Barring a miracle of some description, the County Championship encounter with Hampshire is heading for a draw.

Those who feel three-day cricket should make a return wouldn’t have found much evidence to back such a proposal in the proceedings at the County Ground but Mother Nature, wiping out the entire first day, and the relative standings of the protagonists have seen to it that playing out time is the only option to take.

Northants cricket V Hampshire'Alex Wakely

Northants cricket V Hampshire'Alex Wakely

The County, who aren’t particularly renowned for their overly-adventurous approach at the best of times, certainly don’t want to lose to a side who should be in the shake-up at the end of the season just as the visitors would be a long way behind should they get beaten.

The outcome of all those kind of factors in this day and age is a search for bonus points and that race, if you can call it that, is fairly even.

The home side will bat on tomorrow morning, and quite rightly so, in the hope of eking out as many runs as possible and given that they’ve had their chance with the bat, the visitors’ cause will be best served by trying to bowl them out.

Back to the present and Hampshire’s lower order failed to make much impression after resuming on 149-5 as they were shot out for 206.

Northants cricket V Hampshire'David Sales

Northants cricket V Hampshire'David Sales

Such a result didn’t appear to be on the cards during the first hour of play as Liam Dawson and Michael Roberts added another 30 to the total in relative comfort.

The introduction of Muhammad Azharullah ended that as the debutant skidded one into Roberts’ pads and that wicket breached the dam wall so to speak.

Dawson, who hadn’t put a foot wrong throughout his stay of a fraction under five hours, rashly pulled Andrew Hall to mid-on in the next over before the remaining trio of David Balcombe, Chris Wood and Danny Briggs were brushed aside with little fuss.

Matt Spriegel fell early in the County’s reply as he walked in front to James Tomlinson but Kyle Coetzer, who was quickly out of the blocks, and David Sales played nicely until the latter, unluckily, was excellently caught down the leg-side by Adam Wheater off Sean Ervine’s medium pace.

Northants cricket V Hampshire'Alex Wakely

Northants cricket V Hampshire'Alex Wakely

Alex Wakely didn’t stay around for too long as he edged James Vince’s part-time seam to first slip but Coetzer, who had settled in, made his way to a welcome first half-century of the season.

Post tea, Coetzer was dismissed by a good delivery from Briggs, as the left-armer found some turn and bounce to take the outside edge and Rob Newton, who was strangely becalmed, crept into the twenties only for Wood to extract some extra bounce and force him to parry one to gully.