Middlesex v Northants: Steven Crook century boosts visitors
|LV= County Championship Division One, Lord's|
|Close, day three: Middlesex 488-9 dec & 30-1, Northants 384|
|Middlesex 7pts, Northants 5pts|
Steven Crook's maiden first-class hundred helped Northants avoid the follow-on against Middlesex at Lord's.
They resumed on 89-3 and debutant James Kettleborough added 31 to his overnight score before falling for 73.
Northants slipped to 168-6 before 131 off 124 balls by Crook, assisted by Andrew Hall (75), helped them to 384 all out, trailing by 104.
Middlesex then extended their lead to 134 runs as they closed on 30-1 in their second innings.
Chris Rogers was the man out for 18 when he holed out to Kettleborough off Maurice Chambers.
But Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan, who made a century in the first innings, guided Middlesex to stumps with no further alarms.
Earlier, Toby Roland-Jones (2-62) trapped Rob Newton (35) leg before to claim the first wicket of the day and Northants were handicapped by Rob Keogh being unable to bat after fracturing a finger while fielding on the opening day of the game.
Steven Finn (4-110) brilliantly clung on to have Ben Duckett caught and bowled for five and then ended Kettleborough's resistance, who was caught in the gully by Eoin Morgan, to leave Northants trailing by 320, with only four wickets remaining.
But Crook, who reached three figures with a boundary off Roland-Jones, put on 144 for the seventh wicket with Hall and 67 with Chambers (20) for the eighth wicket to push his side past the follow-on target and to their highest total of the season.
Northants all-rounder Steven Crook:
"I have got close to scoring a hundred a few times before, but it was pretty special to do it finally at Lord's.
"Every time you come here it's special. You walk through the Long Room and reflect on everything that has happened here in cricket's history.
"To do it against my former Middlesex team-mates was also special. They were quite nice to me, actually, although Steven Finn did try to bounce me a few times.
"It was a great innings too from Andrew Hall and I was so pleased to see James Kettleborough bat so well and get 73 on his Championship debut."
BBC London 94.9's Kevin Hand:
"Middlesex failed to produce with the ball, but will cast a glance at the fielders for a few dropped catches on the third day that may well cost them the game.
"Much like at Trent Bridge in their defeat last week, the bowlers failed to produce the consistency they usually maintain, but the pitch didn't offer a great deal as even the impressive young spinner Ravi Patel failed to find much turn.
"Steven Crook will be delighted with maiden first-class century against his former county and it was scored in quick time to heap pressure on the hosts' attempts to control the game.
"Chris Rogers was caught attempting a six late on and the batsman will surely push on in the morning to try to declare before lunch, which may open up the chance of a first win of the season for Northants."
BBC Radio Northampton's Chris Egerton:
"This was comfortably Northamptonshire's best day of a difficult season and one to remember for two players with Middlesex connections.
"James Kettleborough's half-century on his Championship debut boded well for the future. He began with flowing strokes and then showed maturity to knuckle down and lay a platform for those around him.
"Following Kettleborough's dismissal, Andrew Hall and Steven Crook shared Northamptonshire's highest partnership of the season with powerful blows, but in the main, studied concentration.
"When Hall fell for 75, Crook continued to make his maiden first-class century at the age of 31, and against the county he left two years ago.
"It was a moment to savour for him and the pressure is now on Middlesex to force a result."