Despite losing two late wickets, Gloucestershire moved into a strong position at the end of the second day at the Brightside Ground, Bristol closing on 240/4 in their first innings, a lead of 64 over Northamptonshire who earlier in the day were dismissed for 176.
The Gloucestershire effort was built on a solid innings from left-handed opener Chris Dent, who made 93 before being out in the penultimate over of the day. It was a return to form for Dent after a thin patch of late. He was more than ably assisted by the county’s returning hero of least season, Australian Michael Klinger, who was 62 not out at the close.
Northamptonshire resumed this morning on 134/7, with Stephen Crook not out 43 and Richard Gleeson unbeaten on 0. Crook soon completed his 69 ball 50: an innings of great value to his team. Indeed without him the visitors may have been dismissed for little more than 100 on a decent, albeit slowish, pitch.
Gleeson went in Craig Miles’s first over to be followed by Crook in the next: both caught of indeterminate shots. It was a tame ending to an excellent innings from the long- serving Crook. Azarullah followed in the same manner and Northamptonshire were all out for 176 in 52.4 overs.
It was a poor batting performance by the visitors but credit must be given to the Gloucestershire bowlers, who were threatening throughout. Although Miles finished with the best figures, 5/65 it was Josh Shaw the 20 year-old on loan from Yorkshire who was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 4/52.
Gloucestershire had reached an untroubled 40/0 from 15 overs by lunch, skipper Gareth Roderick on 22 and Chris Dent on 11. Roderick, playing more fluently of than recently, was the first wicket to fall, lbw to Ben Sanderson for 40 with the score on 76. Sanderson bowled a lively spell from the Pavilion end after lunch and was unlucky not to account for Graeme van Buuren shortly after. But the young South African never settled and was lbw to Sanderson when he returned for a new spell at the Ashley Down End.
Dent reached his half-century with Gloucestershire on 137/2. It came from 124 balls, which reflects the determination that the talented left-hander showed in playing himself back into the form that has eluded him of late. Meanwhile Michael Klinger settled in quickly in his first Championship innings since his return to Bristol last week. The pair took Gloucestershire to tea on 145/2, Dent on 53 and Klinger on 16.
After tea the pair eased pass the Northamptonshire total the scoring rate gradually increasing, as Klinger became more acclimatised to the pace of the pitch (or lack of it.) He reached 50 from 108 balls as Gloucestershire moved to 211/2.
On 84 Ben Duckett, deputising behind the stumps for the injured Adam Rossington who has a suspected dislocated finger, dropped a straightforward chance that would have given Keessuge Prasanna his first Championship wicket. But the Sri Lankan wasn’t to be denied, and just before the close had Dent caught at slip.
The new ball was taken by Gleeson with one over of the day remaining and, with the last ball, he had Hamish Marshall caught at short leg without scoring.
Tidily though visitors bowled, there was generally little penetration and tomorrow Gloucestershire will look to build a big lead, which will put them in a strong position to win their second successive Championship game. To prevent this, the visitors will have to bat much better second time around.
The Gloucestershire coach said at the end of the day that he felt that his side was in a decent position, but that seeing off the new ball successfully in the morning was vital to ensuring that his side doesn’t squander the good position they are in.