Sales turns back the clock to flail sorry Gloucestershire

Andrew Hall played second fiddle in a large fifth-wicket stand with David Sales
Andrew Hall played second fiddle in a large fifth-wicket stand with David Sales
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At stages on day three of the LV= County Championship encounter with Gloucestershire it was like travelling back in time.

When David Sales was in his prime, there was many an occasion when a trip to the County Ground would see him laying waste to an opposing attack.

But in recent years that kind of scenario has become less of an occurrence and in the past couple of seasons almost non-existent.

The once prolific middle order batsman had become the exact opposite but against Gloucestershire he discovered the verve that once placed him among the most dangerous players in the domestic game.

Unable to get into the Steelbacks’ side for the Twenty20 and forced to return to the Second XI in search of some form, Sales made an unbeaten 155 last week against, ironically enough, the same opposition at Campbell Park, and that seems to have done the trick.

Given an easy-paced surface that couldn’t have been any more suited to batting and a toothless attack that carried less threat than the Scotland football team who once played without any strikers, Sales rolled back the years.

Savage on anything short, especially outside the off stump where he was served up plenty to get stuck into, and nearly as effective on the front foot, he scored at a brisk rate all day.

So well did he play, the fact he had mustered a measly 273 runs in 15 Championship innings prior to this and that he could well have missed out on a place if Ben Duckett hadn’t have been with England Under-19s seems hard to fathom.

But that’s how it was and if he can continue in similar style for the rest of the run-in then Northamptonshire will be a great deal better off for it.

After play had got under way at 2.15pm - persistent drizzle the reason - Cameron White quickly departed when he pulled Craig Miles to deep square-leg.

But that hardly constituted a breach of the dam wall as Sales and Andrew Hall added an untroubled 170 for the fifth wicket.

Assuming the weather held, there was always going to be a declaration at some point which made Hall’s restrained innings of 55 from 106 deliveries a curious affair.

But while he could’ve stepped it up a fraction, it hardly mattered too much considering how freely Sales was scoring at the other end.

Once Sales passed 250 for the third time in his career, and Hall reached his half century, the declaration arrived at 567-4 with the advantage standing at 209.

A bad light interruption after a couple of overs came and went and on the return Chris Dent was put down by James Middlebrook at third slip as he dived forward to take a looping chance off David Willey but that was it for excitement as the visitors made it through to the close unscathed.