Mark Footitt’s five-wicket haul has given Derbyshire a fantastic opportunity for victory against Northamptonshire after making the hosts follow-on at Wantage Road, despite Ben Duckett’s unbeaten 132 in the second innings.
Footitt took 5/41 as Northants were bowled out for just 114 first time around in less than 40 overs, Richard Levi top scoring with 34, and with a deficit of 245 were unsurprisingly asked to bat again.
Duckett, who had been out first ball the previous evening, responded with his second century in three games since being moved to the top of the order, but had precious little support as Northants reached parity by the close, but for the loss of six wickets.
The 20 year-old has had a difficult week having been convicted of drink driving but responded on the field in the best possible fashion, following a t20 career best on Friday night.
While the second half of the day belonged to Duckett, the first was all about Footitt and the rest of the Derbyshire bowlers as Northants first effort with the bat provided little resistance.
Resuming 6/1 after Duckett had fallen, Stephen Peters fell to the 19th ball of the day, bowled by Tony Palladino. Captain Alex Wakely shouldered arms to Footitt and when nightwatchman Olly Stone fended a return catch to the same bowler Northants had slipped to 51/4.
Levi provided the only resistance of note with his 34, which came in the South African’s usual positive style in only 44 balls with seven boundaries, despite losing Rob Keogh who edged Ben Cotton behind.
However, Levi’s dismissal shortly before lunch sparked a collapse that saw Northants lose their last five wickets for 12 runs. Adam Rossington was lbw to Cotton before the interval, while Rory Klienveldt, Maurice Chambers and Ben Sanderson followed in quick succession after. Footitt claimed the first two to complete his 10th five-wicket haul in the County Championship since the start of 2014.
Northants lost in two days at Cheltenham against Gloucestershire last week and a similar fate looked on the cards when Peters, who had hit three early boundaries, fended a Footitt lifter to midwicket in the third over.
Duckett was only moved to the opener berth due to injuries but has thrived in the new role, hitting a 134 and 88 at Old Trafford, following that up with a further half century at Cheltenham, playing in an aggressive but controlled mannor, his 132 coming in 163 balls with 21 boundaries.
He had one life, a rare loose drive off Footitt spilled by Hamish Rutherford at cover when on 26 but otherwise looked assured throughout.
All he was lacking was substation support at the other end, both Wakely and Keogh hung around during the afternoon session but could only contribute five and 11 respectively, while Levi made a quickfire 22 before also falling.
The hosts were still over 100 behind but Adam Rossington and Duckett quick cut into the deficit with a positive stand of 98 at better than a run a ball as for the first time the Derbyshire bowlers lost control for an hour that saw boundaries come with regularity.
Duckett reached three figures with his 17th boundary off Shiv Thakor, but Rossington, who had hit eight fours and a six in his 39 was trapped LBW to Palladino.
The pair had taken Northants to within 14 of parity but Derbyshire wrestled back control as nightwatchman Stone failed to see out the final six overs, bowled by a Palladino yorker.
Josh Cobb’s two off the final ball of the day saw Northants level the scores but with six wickets down and the last recognised pair of batsmen at the crease, only something remarkable will prevent Derbyshire sealing victory on the third day.