Middlebrook shines for Northants
Stand-in opener James Middlebrook scored a magnificent century as Northamptonshire dominated the opening day against Gloucestershire.
Middlebrook, who stepped into the breach in place of the injured Rob Newton, struck a superb 121 off 204 balls, smashing 17 fours, as Northants closed in a strong position on 302 for four at Wantage Road in their County Championship match.
Scotland international Kyle Coetzer finished unbeaten on 81 from 211 deliveries, including 10 boundaries, with Gloucestershire's bowlers toiling away in the heat as the hosts piled on the runs.
Northants won the toss and chose to bat in gloriously sunny conditions and Stephen Peters and Middlebrook took full advantage by making 79 between them for the opening wicket.
Peters made a composed 44 before he was sent packing four overs before lunch when Ian Saxelby's delivery clattered into his middle and leg stumps.
The hosts resumed after lunch on 85 for one and Middlebrook went on to complete his half-century off 102 balls with a four through mid-wicket off Will Gidman.
The veteran piled on another 134 runs for the second wicket along with Coetzer as the hosts looked set to build a big score.
Middlebrook went on to complete the eighth century of his first-class career, and his fourth for Northants, off 156 deliveries by crashing a poor Ed Young delivery through square leg for four.
He then went past his previous best score for Northants of 109 - made against Gloucestershire at Bristol in May last year - as the hosts reached tea looking dominant on 200-1.
Middlebrook's brilliant innings finally ended in the eighth over of the evening when he chipped Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman to former New Zealand international Hamish Marshall at extra cover.
This meant he fell just six runs short of his career-best score of 127, made for Essex against Middlesex at Lord's in June 2007.
Coetzer, however, stuck around to reach a patient 50 off 144 balls by hammering a four through mid-on off the hapless Young.
Gloucestershire's beleaguered attack unsurprisingly immediately took the second new ball when it became available after 80 overs.
The decision paid off three overs later when David Sales was well caught by Ian Cockbain at point off the bowling of Will Gidman after making 17.
The visitors managed to claim one more wicket with the final ball of the day when Alex Wakely played Will Gidman on to his stumps after plundering 24.