Sri Lanka’s dominance continued unchecked on day two at the County Ground as they put Northamptonshire under the cosh.
In reply to the visitors’ mammoth 558-8, the County closed on 146-5, needing 263 more to avoid the follow-on which, as is the norm in these fixtures, probably won’t be enforced as more batting practice is sought.
When it came to their turn to bat midway through the afternoon session, having watched the County struggle throughout their six Championship outings it was refreshing to see someone in the home side play with such freedom.
Straight from the off, Richard Levi was in excellent touch, through the off-side especially, and when he brought up a half century with his ninth boundary, he had contributed all but a dozen of the hosts’ total.
There is a simplicity about his method - as anyone who has seen him do his thing in the shortest form of the game could attest - which is aesthetically pleasing and the purity of his timing rivalled anything the visitors had to offer.
It begs the question of whether his employers would consider using him in the four-day game because, firstly, they need all the help they can get and secondly, he’s here until the end of the limited overs campaign so he’s not going home anytime soon.
That is a question for later, however, and for now he is a batsman filling a hole in the line-up and doing a respectable job of it.
Having spent a day and a half in the field, Levi was at the crease for the third ball of the innings after James Kettleborough’s first innings in first-class cricket had ended with a golden duck, lbw at the hands of Chanaka Welegedara.
Stephen Peters didn’t last much longer as he edged a good Nuwan Pradeep delivery to Prasana Jayawardene but that didn’t halt Levi who continued along in the same vein as he had started.
It took the introduction of spin to slow him down and his spritely effort came to an end, not long after Kyle Coetzer had been caught and bowled at the third attempt by Dhammika Prasad, when he pulled the same bowler to deep square leg.
Ben Duckett failed to make the most of a good opportunity when he attempted to hit too square against the off-spin of Dilruwan Perera but the pair of Rob Keogh and Matt Spriegel saw it through to the close with few alarms.
Earlier in the piece, the Sri Lankans had added 200 to their overnight tally without too much fuss.
Kaushal Silva retired ill (?) on his overnight 152 while his partner, Lahiru Thirimanne proceeded to a career best 156 before missing a slog-sweep at Spriegel’s under-used off-spin.
Spriegel also accounted Dinesh Chandimal, bowled round his legs sweeping, for 47 and Perera helped himself to a boundary-laden half century before the declaration arrived.