Batsmen put County in total control

James Middlebrook made 84 as Northants made Leicestershire suffer on the second day at Grace Road
James Middlebrook made 84 as Northants made Leicestershire suffer on the second day at Grace Road

Northamptonshire look on course for a fifth win of the season after taking complete control of their County Championship clash against Leicestershire at Grace Road.

Leicestershire limped to 47-2, still needing another 371 runs to avoid the follow on, before rain brought a premature end to the second day.

Northants added another 247 runs to their overnight 320-4 before declaring on 567-7 in mid-afternoon.

Kyle Coetzer made a career best 219, Andrew Hall hit his third century of the season and James Middlebrook hammered a quickfire 84.

The declaration left Leicestershire with 10 overs to face before tea - and they made the worst possible start.

Niall O’Brien gloved a catch behind off a lifting delivery from David Willey without scoring and Lee Daggett took a stinging return catch off his own bowling to dismiss Greg Smith for nine.

That made it 19-2, but Ned Eckersley (19) and Joe Burns (15) stayed together until the tea interval, when the rain swept in to prevent any further play.

And an unsettled weather forecast for the next two days could represent bottom-of-the-table Leicestershire’s best hope of avoiding defeat after Northants ruthlessly stamped their mark on the game.

Coetzer began the day on 150 with Hall 65 not out and it was the latter who was the aggressor in the opening overs, scoring 35 runs off 32 balls to reach his century off 144 balls.

But he was out for 103 when he drove a catch to cover off Nathan Buck, ending a fifth wicket stand of 175 in 46 overs.

There was still no respite for Leicestershire with Middlebrook sharing a partnership of 100 with Coetzer. The only disappointment for Northants was that they missed out on maximum batting points by just five runs.

But Coetzer continued to pile on the misery for the home side, reaching the first double hundred of his career off 371 balls.

When he was finally out for 219, caught behind edging a wide delivery from Alex Wyatt, he had faced 402 balls and batted for just over eight and a half hours.

Middlebrook looked set to become the third centurion of the innings until he skied a catch off Rob Taylor having made 84 with 13 fours.

The fall of his wicket brought the declaration, leaving Steven Crook unbeaten on 47.