A bowler’s day as the County edge in front

Steven Crook trapped Ashwell Prince lbw for 2 on the first morning
Steven Crook trapped Ashwell Prince lbw for 2 on the first morning

It was a good day to be a bowler as Northamptonshire began their LV= County Championship clash with Lancashire at the County Ground.

It was chaotic cricket throughout virtually the entire day as 18 wickets fell and it wouldn’t be too critical to say that the word diligence need not be applied.

MNCE/MNT1-27-04-14-Northants CricketAction pix of Northants v Lancashire - day one of four-day game NNL-140427-135232009

MNCE/MNT1-27-04-14-Northants CricketAction pix of Northants v Lancashire - day one of four-day game NNL-140427-135232009

Both sides entered the contest in need of a result and if the weather doesn’t intervene, and even if it does, one of them will have their wish granted.

In typical early season conditions, Stephen Peters won the toss and elected to put the visitors in and the session prior to the lunch interval, which included a brief interruption for bad light, was completely dominated by the home attack.

In the 22 overs possible, Lancashire unconvincingly staggered to 24-4 as they barely laid bat on what was coming down at them.

There was plenty of movement on offer and once those doing the bowling found their range, with Muhammad Azharullah comfortably the pick, batting became extremely hard work.

MNCE/MNT1-27-04-14-Northants CricketAction pix of Northants v Lancashire - day one of four-day game  Hall NNL-140427-135252009

MNCE/MNT1-27-04-14-Northants CricketAction pix of Northants v Lancashire - day one of four-day game Hall NNL-140427-135252009

Not a single shot in anger was played, in fact very few were even attempted, with those fielding behind the wicket being kept interested by the ever-present threat of the edge being located.

Paul Horton was the first to go as his 22-ball stay was ended with an edge to first slip off Azharullah and Luis Reece wasn’t far behind as Olly Stone removed his off stump.

Ashwell Prince, playing no shot, went in Steven Crook’s first over and Andrea Agathangelou, the ball after being put down at second slip by Stone, chopped on to conclude a tortuous innings that brought him a single in 47 minutes.

The revolving door was kept in motion in the initial stages of the afternoon session as Jos Buttler fell to the second delivery after the resumption, edging Stone, playing in place of Maurice Chambers, low to David Murphy.

Tom Smith didn’t last too long as he became Hall’s second wicket of the day which left the scoreboard showing a dismal 33-6.

This preceded the first resistance of the day from Luke Procter and Glen Chapple, the former adopting a watchful method and the latter a more gung-ho approach.

Procter struck the first boundary in front of the wicket in the 28th over of the day and looked the most assured of the top order until Azharullah removed his off stump from its standing.

Chapple and Kabir Ali gifted Crook his second and third of the day in successive balls, both with miscued pull shots, and it was left to Jimmy Anderson and Simon Kerrigan, with the highest stand of the innings, to push the score past into three figures.

The highlights show feel to the day’s events was exaggerated when the hosts began their reply.

Sixteen was taken off Chapple’s first over which included the dismissal of James Middlebrook and after a shot-filled few minutes, Kyle Coetzer fell in the same way to Anderson.

But that was relatively tame compared to the madness in the five minutes after tea.

Peters, Rob Newton and Andrew Hall all went in the space of eight deliveries - caught at midwicket, bowled and caught behind respectively - to leave the County with half of their number back in the dressing room and the deficit still at 84.

A period of sanity followed as Matt Spriegel and Ben Duckett got their heads down in the only partnership that reached 50 but once the latter edged Simon Kerrigan to slip it was back to normal service.

That meant Anderson hitting both Crook and Murphy in front, picking up the 30th five-wicket haul of his 13-year career in the process, but Spriegel and Stone reached the close with the score at 133-8, just 14 in the lead.