Bailey in control for cool Northants

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The Independent Online
CricketNorthamptonshire 237-3 v Middlesex

It did not appear to have unnerved Northamptonshire that they have just disproved the theory that the best way for a side to make itself safe from defeat in a four-day match is to bat for the first two days and score 500. After winning the toss they set out to do just that against Middlesex at Park Road.

After the heroics at Northampton on Monday it must have been difficult to gear themselves up again so soon afterwards. None the less, the principal components of their formidable batting line-up all made contributions on a day when the weather claimed 24 of the 110 overs.

The mainstay of the batting was Rob Bailey whose contribution was only three when Northamptonshire amassed that 781 for 7 declared. He was in fine form on an excellent batting pitch making good use of his height and his considerable power as he went through his fine repertoire of strokes.

The start was delayed for 15 minutes by early morning drizzle and Northamptonshire began slowly, obviously mindful of the importance of building a sound basis to the innings against hostile bowling by Angus Fraser and Dion Nash.

There were a number of edges which went away for runs in the opening overs and then, in the 22nd, with the score at 46, Alan Fordham fenced at a lifter down the leg side from Mark Feltham and was caught behind. At lunch, Richard Montgomerie had made 22 out of a score of 67 for 1 in 32 overs.

In the first over afterwards, Bailey hit John Emburey for six and runs began to come more freely.There was nothing much in the pitch for the bowlers and Bailey now reached his 50 two overs before Montgomerie. But in the same over as he reached his, Montgomerie was caught at slip pushing forward to Nash.

Allan Lamb was in the jauntiest of moods and played a delightful cameo of an innings making 36 in 51 balls before he hooked Fraser and was well caught by Phillip Tufnell on the boundary. When bad light intervened at 5.45, Bailey was two runs short of what will be a splendid 100 if he reaches it.