Northants in total control in Bristol

Alex Wakely made 88 in Northants' first innings
Alex Wakely made 88 in Northants' first innings

Half-centuries from Alex Wakely, James Middlebrook and Steven Crook put Division Two leaders Northamptonshire in control on the second day of their LV=County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

Wakely led the way with 88 as the visitors ran up 404 all out in reply to 192, Middlebrook making 62 and Crook 53.

Gloucestershire were left with an awkward period to bat before the close and lost skipper Michael Klinger for a single in moving to 34-1, still 178 runs behind.

Northants began the day on 107-3 and Rob Newton soon set about adding to his score of 14, pulling a ball from Alex Gidman over fine leg for six.

Newton had moved brightly to 39 when caught at backward-point by Jack Taylor off Benny Howell to make the score 149-4.

Wakely, unbeaten on 23 overnight, looked in good touch as he was joined by Andrew Hall, who was given a life on 18 when dropped by Chris Dent at second slip off David Payne.

The pair had added 77 by lunch, which was taken with Northants 226-4.

Wakely had moved to 80, having reached an elegant half-century off 113 balls, with eight fours.

Hall was 27 not out at the interval, but could add only a single in the afternoon session before falling leg-before to Will Gidman. He had struck six boundaries and the score was 227-5.

That became 242-6 when Wakely departed, also lbw to Gidman, having faced 166 balls and extended his boundary count to 11.

It was 268 for six when the second new ball became due and, not surprisingly, Klinger opted to take it immediately.

Payne was the bowler to capitalise as David Murphy was caught by diving wicketkeeper Cameron Herring for 16 and three balls later David Willey had his middle stump uprooted.

The Northants lead was just 91, but their tail wagged energetically as Crook joined Middlebrook to produce the most attacking batting of the day.

Middlebrook hit eight fours in reaching a 72-ball half-century, while Crook also punished anything loose.

By tea they had taken the score to 353-8, earning Northants a third and fourth batting point in the process. Middlebrook was unbeaten on 62, while Crook had hit six fours in his 35 not out.

The final session saw Middlebrook caught behind off Taylor’s off-spin without adding to his score but last man Trent Copeland then contributed 27 not out to a stand of 46 with Crook.

Will Gidman claimed his fourth wicket when Crook chipped a catch to Dent at mid-wicket, having made his valuable 53 off 78 balls, with eight fours helping Northants to maximum batting points.