No joy for Monty as County dominate in Colchester

David Sales hit his second century in as many games as the County had the better of day one in Colchester
David Sales hit his second century in as many games as the County had the better of day one in Colchester
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Monty Panesar experienced a hard day of toil as he began the mission to reignite his career with Essex.

The England left-arm spinner made his debut for his new team against his former county Northamptonshire in their LV= County Championship match at Colchester.

Released on loan by Sussex following a police fine for his drunken behaviour outside a Brighton nightclub on August 5, Panesar sent down 34 overs to achieve just one wicket, that of Alex Wakely, at a cost of 72 runs.

Northamptonshire, largely thanks to centuries from Stephen Peters and David Sales, reached the close of the first day’s play on 343-5.

Panesar must have feared the worst when the visitors won the toss in ideal batting conditions.

Even though David Masters claimed an early success by finding a way through the defence of James Middlebrook with the total on 27, it soon became clear bowlers would suffer a difficult day.

Only very rarely did the ball get past the bat or find the edge as Sales and Peters, who spent six seasons with Essex early in his career, dominated the bowlers.

A fast outfield meant it was straightforward to find the boundary regularly, Sales pulling with authority as he reached his half-century from 63 balls with the help of 11 boundaries.

Peters’ fifty contained just six fours but the captain and opener found the gaps often enough to reach his half-century just as quickly.

Sales was first to reach three figures from the 133rd ball he received, an effort containing 17 fours and a straight driven six against Panesar.

Peters followed him to his hundred with the aid of 10 boundaries but in the same over he was bowled by Masters trying to guide the ball in the direction of third man.

Essex skipper James Foster continually juggled his attack, Panesar twice switching ends during four unproductive spells before tea.

During that time, he proved economical, but his reluctance to use guile and give the ball air meant that he seldom posed real problems.

Sales’ fine innings finally came to an end when he was bowled by Graham Napier for 131, his contribution spanning 201 balls and containing 21 fours in addition to his six.

Wakely brought up the 300 with a straight-driven six at the expense of off-spinner Greg Smith, but soon afterwards he lost Ben Duckett to the second new ball.

The 18-year-old pushed forward against Reece Topley to be caught in the slip cordon by Gautam Gambhir, another Essex debutant.

Panesar at last had something to brighten his day when, in the first over of his fifth spell and his 30th in total, he removed Wakely with the help of Ravi Bopara at short extra cover when the batsman was within one run of his half-century.