Advantage lost as the batting again fails to produce

Stephen Peters was in fine touch after Northants had been put into bat at Trent BridgeStephen Peters was in fine touch after Northants had been put into bat at Trent Bridge
Stephen Peters was in fine touch after Northants had been put into bat at Trent Bridge
The brittleness of the Northamptonshire batting order was again highlighted on the second day of the LV= County Championship encounter with Nottinghamshire.

At Trent Bridge, the visitors closed the day’s play on 241-8 which, while far from disastrous given the time lost and the surface being played on, doesn’t look great when you consider they were 107-0.

There was assistance for the seamers all day but only a couple could claim to have been got out and until this trend is reversed, the bad habit of squandering good positions and coming up under par will fester.

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After four sessions of watching the rain fall, the umpires inspect, the groundstaff remove the covers and the groundstaff mop up - repeated a number of times - the greyness finally lifted and play could get under way.

Having won the toss and elected to bowl, a decision that someone with no knowledge of cricket whatsoever could have predicted given the overhead conditions and a pitch that hadn’t seen daylight for quite a few hours, everything should have been in the hosts’ favour.

But that’s not how it panned out in the afternoon as a combination of indifferent bowling, curious field placements and decent batting reversed the expected.

When Stephen Peters edged Peter Siddle’s second ball just short of Samit Patel at second slip, it could’ve been seen as omen of things to come but the captain and James Middlebrook, the former discovering some much-needed form and the latter continuing from where he left off against Lancashire, set off at a heady rate.

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With the home attack struggling to consistently hit a demanding length, or line for that matter, there was enough to be picked off and picked off it was.

Aided by Chris Read’s insistence on positioning boundary riders and leaving gaping holes in the infield, a tactic which meant they were neither attacking - even with three slips - or defending, runs came freely from both ends.

The off-side especially was given a good peppering by both openers who recorded the highest first wicket stand of the season and passed three figures before Siddle, in his second spell, located Middlebrook’s outside edge.

In his first appearance of the season, David Sales crunched a pair of boundaries to the cover fence off Siddle only to have his off stump disturbed playing no shot.

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After the tea interval, Peters continued in the same vein as he made the most of anything loose but with a hundred in his sights he inexplicably chipped a leg-stump half-volley to square-leg to give Siddle his third wicket.

This came shortly after Andre Adams, who had had him dropped by Read in his previous over, located Matt Spriegel’s middle stump and all of a sudden a strong position was in danger of being washed away.

It was now the contest it probably should have been from the off with batting a more tricky proposition and Andrew Hall was the next to go as he was caught at the wicket off Ajmal Shahzad to record his fifth single-figure score in seven innings shortly before Ben Duckett followed in the same fashion to the Australian.

Rob Newton’s sprightly innings ended when he shuffled across his stumps to Shahzad and the same bowler claimed Steven Crook who limply slapped an unthreatening offering to cover point.

David Murphy and Maurice Chambers lasted until the close which arrived with the jumbo screen showing a total that could, and almost certainly should, have been a lot more promising.