Middlesex 134 for 7 (Wood 2-26) trail Northamptonshire 445 (Procter 81*, Murtagh 6-80) by 311 runs
If Friday was a very welcome start to the new campaign for Northamptonshire, the second day at Wantage Road was the stuff of pre-season dreams as they totally dominated Middlesex, the 2016 county champions. Having piled up 445, Northants reduced Middlesex to 134 for 7 before bad light ended the day 14 overs early.
After showing the resolve to bat for long periods and build a score, Northamptonshire overcame another bad habit by backing up one good day with another. When Jason Holder fell in the sixth over of the morning, a Middlesex fightback looked possible but Luke Procter and Luke Wood ensured the advantage was pressed home, sharing 53 for the eighth wicket.
Their stand earned Northants a fourth batting point. It took five matches for Northants to reach the same tally last season.
Procter, who endured a lean 2018 in his first full season after joining from Lancashire, worked the bowling around with ease to pass 50 in 111 balls, before taking a liberty or two with the tail - lifting Steven Finn over deep square for six and cleverly guiding Tim Murtagh for boundaries - in making an unbeaten 81, the highest score of the innings.
Northants' total was built with several healthy partnerships, the last of which, a 71 stand for the tenth wicket between Procter and Ben Sanderson, was a sickener for Middlesex as a solid total became a commanding score.
With the luxury of scoreboard pressure, the home attack bowled with persistence to chip away at the Middlesex order. After a 39-run opening stand, Holder made the breakthrough having Nick Gubbins caught at first slip before Sam Robson went to cut and edged behind. In between, Nathan Buck produced a delivery that lifted from a length to find Stevie Eskinazi's edge and with three wickets by tea, Northants had won a fifth session in succession.
After tea, the home side took complete control of the game. Dawid Malan fell in the second over the session, caught at the wicket off Wood - a first wicket for the on-loan Nottinghamshire left-armer. Wood's second wicket saw Max Holden, who rescued Middlesex here last season, mistime a pull to square leg.
Eoin Morgan, England's one-day captain, never settled with various inside and outside edges before Buck finally drew a nick that taken by Adam Rossington and when Sanderson took his first wicket - John Simpson held well, down low by Holder at second slip - Northants were pondering asking Middlesex to follow-on for the second season in a row.