Tom Taylor posted a maiden List A century in a record stand with Jack White, but Gloucestershire finished narrow winners in the Metro Bank One-Day Cup at Cheltenham.
Graeme van Buuren, returning after a month spent on the sidelines recovering from injury, reached 108 and helped stage a stand of 104 with Anwar Ali for the eighth wicket as the home side recovered from 142-7 to make 278 in 48.4 overs.
Recruited on a short-term overseas contract, Anwar weighed in with an entertaining 61 to redress the balance after seamer Ben Sanderson had claimed three wickets in 13 balls to make a mess of Gloucestershire’s top order.
Ajeet Singh Dale then returned figures of 4-58, including a burst of three wickets in 11 deliveries, and Tom Price took 4-26 as the Steelbacks were eventually dismissed for 255 in 48.1 overs.
Luck was against Northamptonshire’s reply which was in early trouble as a result. Gay clipped with nice timing off his legs but was caught low at short fine leg before Vasconcelos, Whiteman and Procter all edged deliveries onto their stumps. When Keogh feathered an edge to the keeper it was 30/5 and the visitors were in real trouble.
Only new overseas signing Prithvi Shaw proved immune to the chaos all around him, the Indian international batsman standing firm and hooking Singh Dale backward of square for a towering six to demonstrate his defiance. Prithvi moved with confidence to 33 but suffered from cramp throughout the innings, requiring treatment from the physio on a number of occasions. It would eventually be his downfall, after hooking at a bouncer that may well have been signaled a no ball for height on another day, Prithvi lost balance on the troublesome calf and fell backwards – his bat clipping the top of leg stump in the process.
New List A Captain McManus led a spirited fightback, raising a 60-ball half century and dominating a stand of 86 in 14 overs with Taylor. McManus mixed power with placement throughout his innings but the latter failed him eventually, connecting hard with a sweep which flew to the fielder at deep square leg. Gloucestershire could still not afford to relax while Taylor remained at large however, the all-rounder punishing anything over pitched with tremendous power. The number eight battered the sight screen while unfurling a series of powerful reverse sweeps against spin.
He found a willing partner in Jack White and the pair began to breathe life into a Northamptonshire innings that had looked long gone. A couple of towering sixes onto the marquee roofs, one of which off a reverse sweep, took Taylor quickly towards his maiden List A century which he completed in just 80 balls.
The ninth wicket stand ended on 105 when Taylor, perhaps for the first time in his innings, failed to fully connect with another lusty blow which fell into the hands of long off. The effort was the highest for a Northamptonshire number 8 in List A cricket and ended a Northamptonshire record ninth wicket stand.
Northamptonshire still required 30 from 21 balls and while hope briefly remained, White was the last man to go, also for his List A career best, when he smashed a straight drive only to be well held by Tom Price in his follow through.
It had earlier proved a good toss to win, Sanderson claiming three wickets in 13 balls from the Chapel End. He accounted for Gloucestershire’s openers in successive overs, teenager Joe Phillips and veteran campaigner Chris Dent both playing at deliveries outside off stump, offering catches behind and departing for 11 and a run-a-ball 30 respectively. When Sanderson took a straightforward return catch to remove an out-of-sorts James Bracey for one, he boasted figures of 3-20 from six overs and the home side were in trouble at 54-3 in the twelfth.
Playing his first game for a month, van Buuren set about repairing the damage in partnership with the in-form Ollie Price, these two raising 50 from 52 balls as conditions eased to suggest Gloucestershire might yet attain a competitive total.
But there then followed a slapstick sequence of events that saw the hosts lurch from 105-3 to 142-7 and hand back the initiative to the Steelbacks. First, Price pushed a ball from Procter to long-on and set off for a sharp single, only to be utterly undone as Keogh’s brilliant pick up and throw on the run which scored a direct hit and found him short for 23.
Northamptonshire were handed a gift when van Buuren came tearing back for a second, only to find himself stood alongside Taylor, the latter well short in his attempts to scurry to the other end. Tom Price and Zafar Gohar then succumbed in quick succession to Keogh’s off breaks as wickets continued to fall in flurries.
Shouldering responsibility for making amends for the run outs, van Buuren eased to 50 from 60 balls and at last discovered a dependable ally in the form of debutant Anwar, who brought all his considerable experience to bear on the situation to help turn the tables.
Although van Buuren was run out by Procter in the 44th over and Anwar fell to Freddie Heldreich’s wrist spin, having helped himself to 3 fours and 2 sixes in an entertaining knock that comprised 55 balls, Gloucestershire already had a competitive total.