Northamptonshire’s County Championship match with Leicestershire petered out to a draw at Wantage Road after the visitor’s opted against setting up a final afternoon run chase.
Alex Wakely declared Northant’s first innings 122 runs behind on the third evening, but Leicestershire batted on to reach 292-6 in their second innings, setting a nominal target of 404 in 51 overs.
Wakely hit a half century as they ensured the draw in a game where they had been under pressure at 184-5 in reply to the host’s first innings 519, but Rob Newton’s unbeaten 202, his maiden double century ensured they avoided the follow on and any realistic chances of defeat.
Head coach David Ripley praised Newton’s efforts as Northants backed up their first Championship win of the season at Glamorgan last week with another positive display, although he was left slightly frustrated at the way the final day concluded.
“We hoped with our declaration that it might be a different set up so it certainly has petered out,” he said.
“When we left here last night, we were hoping it might be a really good, exciting couple of sessions of cricket but it wasn’t to be.
“We thought with Essex looking like they were going to win, might play in favour of a game, but obviously they lost their strike bowler so understand that that’s going to affect their calculations; no doubt about that.
His comments on Newton’s double century were much more complimentary:
“It was a real classic opener’s innings, nice tempo all the way through, never got too far ahead of himself and played balls on merit and got his rewards, really pleased for Rob, and it was under pressure, we were under the pump and someone had to come out and play that role for us and he did it.
“We were under pressure several times in that game with Leicester posting the score that they did and obviously we had to play very well in the first innings, we thought the wicket might deteriorate a little bit more but it didn’t so the wicket maybe won.
“On the back of the last game we wanted to break the cycle of good performance/rubbish performance, we won at Glamorgan and this is a creditable draw; we had opportunities, didn’t quite take them but in general over the four days we’ve fought hard and played pretty well.”
After Newton’s double hundred had taken Northants to 397-7 when Wakely declared their first innings, the final day was all about Leicestershire’s willingness to set a chase-able total, on a Wantage Road pitch offering little in the way of assistance.
The visitors started the day 171 runs ahead with all 10 wickets in hand, but after strike bowler Clint McKay had hobbled off earlier in the match, Mark Cosgrove opted for the cautious approach, Paul Horton and Angus Robson easing to an opening partnership of 184.
Saif Zaib removed both before lunch, his maiden First Class wickets, at which point a target of 320 in 63 overs might have tempted Northants, but instead Leicesteshire batted on, adding a further 95 in 10 overs before pulling out at 292-6.
The approach drew boos from the Wantage Road faithful as Cosgrove effectively killed any chance of a positive result, however it did allow Zaib to complete a five wicket haul, finishing with 5-148 whilst there was also a maiden First Class wicket for David Murphy.
Newton fell for 22, bowled by Ben Raine, but that was the only alarm for Northants as they saw out the remaining 51 overs with ease, Wakely finishing unbeaten on 53 alongside Murphy, Northants reaching 118-1 when the handshakes came.