Craig Miles took a career best 6/63 but Adam Rossington responded with 95 for Northamptonshire as the hosts edged an opening day of fluctuating fortunes at Wantage Road.
Miles removed four of the top six as Northants slipped to 162/6 at the mid-way point of the day, but Rossington, along with David Willey who made 62, put on 127 for the seventh wicket to swing the momentum back.
The pair both scored at better than a run a ball, lifting Northants to a score of over 300 that had looked unlikely, despite Miles’ efforts. The 20-year-old was easily the pick of the visitors’ bowlers, while Gareth Roderick took six catches to equal the county record for a wicketkeeper.
Rossington’s knock came off just 98 balls in what was his first game as a permanent member of the Northants squad after an impressive loan spell last season, and despite missing out on three figures, believes his partnership with Willey had lifted his side to a competitive score.
“It was obviously disappointing not to get three figures but as a team we’re in a good position,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a bad score, it’s not a massive score but I think it’s enough and if we bowl well we should be able to get them under that.
“We lost a few wickets in clusters, that was disappointing but we also had a couple of good partnerships there and would have been nice to get to 350 and get that next batting point but it wasn’t to be.
“We [he and David Willey] work well as a pair and we were taking it in slow steps and milestones as and when we got them, we knew we had to build as a pair and get ourselves back on the front foot and I think we did that.
“You’ve got to pick and choose you’re shots at times and I think we did that quite well today, it’d have been nice to get a few more together, wasn’t to be but it was good, we want to be tough to beat and the lower order will have to help out and club together and it goes from 160 all of a sudden to 300 with a few partnerships.”
After being put into bat on a sunny, if windy, Northampton morning, Richard Levi and Stephen Peters wasted no time in putting on 59 for the opening wicket. Levi was more of the aggressor with two pulled sixes, but it was Miles’ introduction that brought the breakthrough.
The youngster’s first ball saw Levi caught down the leg side, with Peters following in the very next over, edging James Fuller behind, and when Rob Newton’s skittish innings saw him following in the same manner off Miles for a single, the promising start had turned into 64/3.
Keogh and Alex Wakely, playing his first game since September 2013, steadied the ship with a patient partnership before lunch, with the former upping the pace after the interval. Keogh had looked set fair for a half century but fell for 46, giving Kieran Noema-Barnett his first wicket in English cricket.
Wakely made a patient 31, but then became the fourth member of the top five to reach 25 but not go on when Miles removed his middle stump, and when county debutant Josh Cobb followed two balls later, the visitors were well in control at 162/6.
The momentum quickly shifted as Rossington played his natural attacking game, with Willey unusually restrained to begin before quickly moving through the gears. Rossington reached a 44-ball 50 as the pair added 82 in 12 overs before tea, with 51 coming in a four-over spell either side of that interval.
Willey had given a half-chance to mid-on when on just four but soon had his own run-a-ball half-century as the pair reached their hundred stand in under 15 overs, both regularly finding the boundary as Gloucestershire’s bowling became ragged.
The all-rounder launched Noema-Barnett for a straight six, Willey’s second maximum, but got a thin nick behind two balls later, his 62 coming off 57 balls.
Rossington meanwhile continued on his way and looked set for his second Northants hundred on his debut as a permanent member of the squad, but on 95 he attempted to hook Miles and edged behind to depart visibly frustrated, the catch Roderick’s sixth dismissal equalling the mark set by six other keepers in Gloucestershire’s first-class history.
Rory Kleinveldt (19) and Azharullah (8) quickly followed to Noema-Barnett and Miles respectively, the former finishing with a more than respectable 3/48, before Chris Dent and Will Tavare saw out the remaining 38 balls of the day with few troubles for Gloucestershire until bad light ended play four overs early.