Weather steers contest towards a draw

David Willey hit a career best with the bat on day three against Yorkshire
David Willey hit a career best with the bat on day three against Yorkshire

It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility but it will take a substantial effort if Northamptonshire are to claim victory against Yorkshire.

With one day remaining in the Championship encounter, the home side lead by 98 and with the pitch showing few signs of deterioration, they will be hard pushed to dismiss the visitors for a second time.

On another rain interrupted day – just the 37 overs lost this time after a torrential downpour in the early afternoon – the County recovered from an early stumble to post a decent, if less than they would’ve hoped for, advantage.

They had Stephen Peters and David Willey to thank for that, the former posting his first century of a lean campaign and the latter making a breezy 76 which constituted his highest first-class score.

Their respective efforts were constructed by contrasting methods with Peters playing the patient accumulator and Willey, a dangerous customer so low in the order at number nine, more willing to go after the ball.

But how they went about their business is irrelevant, the fact is they helped ensure that only one of the two sides would be capable of pushing for victory.

That looked an unlikely ambition when the rain arrived with four wickets having gone down before a first innings lead had been established.

Rob Newton edged Moin Ashraf to first slip from a loose drive and Andrew Hall played across the next delivery. James Middlebrook survived the hat-trick ball but could only sneak into double figures before Adil Rashid trapped him in front.

Peters unhurriedly reached three figures, the 28th time he had passed that particular milestone in his professional career, but he departed when he was caught, rather unfortunately, by short leg after he pulled a Rashid long-hop in his direction.

But Willey, who doesn’t really do defensive-minded, motored to a run-a-ball half-century with more than able support from David Murphy and Olly Stone before becoming Rashid’s fifth victim.

That came just before the fourth bonus point was achieved in the 110th and final over but although the perfect opportunity for a declaration was presented – no opening batsman that I know wants to face a testing five overs at the end of the day – conservatism took over.

Not that it made any difference as Lee Daggett fell in the next over, leaving the Yorkshire pair of Lyth and Joe Root to negotiate a tricky 15-minute period.

They did this comfortably enough and with a more disciplined effort than they showed on the first day, they should be able to leave with a share of the spoils.