Northamptonshire finished the opening day of their LV= County Championship clash with Essex in the ascendancy..
But it could have been a whole lot better were it not for almost single-handed resistance from all-rounder Graham Napier.
After being made to bat, Essex were bowled out for just 183 with Napier’s explosive 73 not out off 65 balls, including five sixes, the only resistance with Steven Crook taking four for 39.
Napier then took three for 30 as the visitors clawed their way back into contention by reducing Northants to 156 for five at the close with their captain Stephen Peters top-scoring with 60 off 92 deliveries.
Northants won the toss, but chose to bowl and after bringing Andrew Hall on in the 14th over they had the wicket of Bobby Quiney when he was trapped lbw for 25.
Five overs later, Ben Foakes (four) departed when he edged Crook to Northants wicketkeeper David Murphy and Trent Copeland then removed Westley for 30 when he was also taken by Murphy.
Two wickets in four balls fell in the final over before lunch when Mark Pettini (four) was taken by Copeland at third slip off Crook before the same man bowled Essex captain and wicketkeeper James Foster.
It went from bad to worse for them in the second over of the afternoon when England’s Ravi Bopara (six) tentatively nudged to Murphy to give Crook his fourth wicket.
David Willey then got in on the act when Greg Smith walked on 15 by edging to Murphy.
Maurice Chambers made just a single before his leg stump was taken out by Willey and Reece Topley was bowled by Hall for a five-ball duck.
Napier hung around to complete his half-century off just 58 balls as he threw his bat around but Essex’s innings came to an end when Tymal Mills (six) scooped Willey to Rob Newton at gully.
Napier struck in the eighth over of Northants’ reply when Kyle Coetzer wafted his delivery to Westley at second slip to depart for 12.
Four balls later, David Sales (four) chipped Napier to Chambers at midwicket with Alex Wakely (11) following him by tamely picking out Bopara at square leg off Chambers.
Peters did his all to stabilise his side’s innings by going past 50 off 76 deliveries but he perished when Pettini took a good low catch at slip off Topley.
Hall (13) then became the 15th wicket to fall on a frenetic day’s play when he edged Napier to Pettini at first slip.