Spirited Northants push Australia to the limit

The Australian players enjoy a rare moment of celebration following the dismissal of Ben Duckett for 50 on Saturday (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
The Australian players enjoy a rare moment of celebration following the dismissal of Ben Duckett for 50 on Saturday (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Northants almost forced an embarrasing follow-on from Australia on the third and final day of the tour match at the County Ground.

The Aussies eventually called it a day on 312 for nine after David Ripley’s side, which was largely second string, caused early problems with the ball.

Northants had made 396 all out on the second day - the first was washed out - with Steven Crook smashing a superb unbeaten 142.

And the home bowlers put the pressure on before Pat Cummins displayed his all-round ability with 82 not out to save the Aussies from further humiliation.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh also pressed his claims for a return, after he was left out of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, as he followed his figures of four for 56 with a composed 68.

Marsh’s knock helped turn the Australia innings around after Northants’ spirited attack had cut through the top-order, reducing the visitors to 87 for five.

Maurice Chambers followed his dismissal of David Warner last night by removing the incoming Australia skipper Steven Smith, edging behind, before he had scored.

Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges fell within the space of 20 balls, the latter to Saturday’s centurion Crook, before Shane Watson was trapped lbw by the economical Ben Sanderson.

Mitchell Marsh and Peter Nevill dug in for a 69-run stand, before Crook bowled the wicketkeeper-batsman on his way to figures of three for 38 to complete his memorable match against his countrymen.

Australia are 3-1 down to England in the five-Test Ashes series.

As for Northants, they now turn their attentions to a vital Royal London One-Day Cup match against Gloucestershire at the County Ground on Monday morning.

Ripley’s men will be wearing pink in that match as they support Crazy Hats Breast Cancer Care.