County get their noses in front in opening skirmishes

Maurice Chambers made an early breakthrough when he dismissed Adam Lyth for a duck
Maurice Chambers made an early breakthrough when he dismissed Adam Lyth for a duck
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In their five previous LV= County Championship outings Northamptonshire have barely competed.

Yes, they battled to a draw against Durham and at times they had Lancashire in some bother but they have been small crumbs of comfort in what has been a difficult couple of months.

They were drubbed at Headingley, they surrendered meekly at Trent Bridge and Middlesex brushed them aside last time out.

Four defeats in five and hardly looking like dragging themselves out of a deep trough, they could’ve been forgiven for approaching the visit of third place Yorkshire with a touch of trepidation but while they are hardly streaking ahead, they are certainly in possession of the upper hand.

On a surface that has provided ample assistance for those who bowl seam for a living and with a number of batsmen who have been in it for a good time and not a long one, the game is already at a very advanced stage and if it makes it to day four there should be cause for some surprise.

Having won the toss on a overcast morning, Stephen Peters made the obvious choice to give the visitors first use.

And his decision paid immediate dividends as Adam Lyth, Alex Lees and Andrew Gale were all back in the pavilion before the score reached 30.

When Jack Leaning became the fourth to depart all of the seam quartet had a wicket to their name and this quickly became five when Ian Butler breached Jonny Bairstow’s loose drive.

No further damage was inflicted as Aaron Finch and Adil Rashid reached lunch unscathed but the break, as is often the case, resulted in a halt of any momentum that had been built up and it wasn’t long before Muhammad Azharullah and Butler had worked themselves through four more.

There was a brief stalling as the 10th wicket added 26 but the final total of 136 was still a pretty poor showing by a strong line-up.

But judgement is best left reserved until the County, given recent experience, have had their chance to bat and they were never likely to romp ahead.

As had been the case in Leeds a few weeks ago, Jack Brooks bit the hand that used to feed as he took the first four wickets to fall.

Peters edged to third slip, David Sales played on, Matt Spriegel was hit in front and Rob Keogh, in his first senior outing of the year, drove a return catch.

While all of this was going on, James Middlebrook was scoring freely at the other end and helped by his cut shot being fed consistently, the Yorkshire exile, who was spilled twice off Tim Bresnan in the cordon, made his way to 70 before the same bowler induced an edge to Finch at first slip.

Rob Newton didn’t look in the mood to hang around and he struck a handful of good boundaries before aiming across the line to Bresnan shortly before bad light forced a short delay.

The light improved considerably to enable a restart and although Andrew Hall’s woeful form continued, the lead had been pushed out to 55 when the deepening gloom ended proceedings for the day.