Northants look up after White shines

Middlesex 251 & 207 Northants 239 & 220-4
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The Independent Online

Seven years ago Rob White scored the highest maiden century in the history of English first-class cricket, hitting 277 against Gloucestershire. In the years since he has failed to live up to such an impressive start but he still has the ability to score runs, as he proved yesterday. White guided Northamptonshire to a six-wicket victory over Middlesex with an unbeaten 85.

Chasing 220 to win after skittling Middlesex out for 207, courtesy of four for 43 from David Lucas, Northamptonshire got off to the perfect start with Stephen Peters hitting 73 from 101 balls.

Middlesex thought the wickets would tumble when he was dismissed by Tim Murtagh at the start of the last session, however, they were no match for White who guided the hosts home. The victory – their fifth of the season – leaves Northamptonshire in with a great chance of being promoted. They are now second, 19 points behind Kent and some nine ahead of Essex in third.

They could be there only temporarily, however, as Derbyshire – in fourth place – will expect to complete a crushing victory over Kent today.

It could have been a lot worse for Middlesex had Gareth Berg not rescued them from an embarrassing collapse at 47 for six – effectively seven wickets down due to Shaun Udal's head injury on day two. The 28-year-old hit a valiant 94 not out from 118 balls but wasn't backed up by his bowlers as Northamptonshire chased down their victory target inside 46 overs.

Middlesex began the day at 17 for three and that was soon 29 for five with Adam London (four) and Neil Dexter (one) flashing at balls from Johan van der Wath and Lucas to be caught by Irish wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien.

Worse was to follow for the visitors when, with Udal unable to bat following a head injury, Dawid Malan fell leg before to Monty Panesar for 26. Berg played positively from the outset reaching his fifth half-century of the season from 63 balls thanks to six fours and a huge slog-sweep six off England spinner Panesar.

The South African added exactly 100 with John Simpson from 25 overs before the wicketkeeper – on debut – was sent packing by South African all-rounder Andrew Hall for 41.

Incoming batsman Murali Kartik provided Berg with further support following a stand of 53 but was left stranded after Van der Wath and Lucas struck to wrap up the innings at 207 in the 59th over.

Northamptonshire feared a Middlesex-style collapse when O'Brien fell for a duck in the second over only for Peters and Alex Wakely to rally and grow the score to 65.

However with the match racing away from Middlesex acting captain Murtagh turned to Kartik for wickets and it paid off with the Indian spinner claiming two from his first over. Wakely fell for 13 before Riki Wessels was trapped lbw without scoring, however, the trend stopped there with White coming to the crease.

The game was almost beyond the visitors when Peters was dismissed by Murtagh with the score at 121 with Nicky Boje supporting White with 30 to guide the hosts home. The Defeat left Middlesex third from bottom in the Second Division but both Surrey and Leicestershire have a game in hand on the Londoners.