Peters injury mars opening day of derby clash

Matt Spriegel leaves a delivery alone on day one against Leicestershire
Matt Spriegel leaves a delivery alone on day one against Leicestershire
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This won’t go down as the best day of the campaign for Northamptonshire.

Ignore, for a moment, what happened on the field, and concentrate on what occurred prior to the scheduled start time.

Stephen Peters’ broken ring finger on his right hand, sustained in the indoor nets at the hand of, rather ironically, head coach David Ripley, will rule him out for around six weeks and leave a gaping hole at the top of the order.

The captain has been the only one of the top six in consistently good form with a pair of half-centuries and one three-figure score in four outings and the side will look less robust without him facing the new ball.

But one man’s misfortune is another’s opportunity and Rob Keogh was the beneficiary as he was drafted in for only his second first-class appearance, making the trip up the M5 from Taunton where he was playing for the second team

Back to matters at hand and the County will have been odds-on to maintain their excellent form against a Leicestershire side who haven’t been in the rudest of health but it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of what play did take place as the hosts closed day one of the County Championship encounter on 91-4.

Ramnaresh Sarwan called correctly at the toss with stand-in captain Alex Wakely and presented with a fresh pitch that had a very generous covering of grass, had little hesitation in giving the home side first use.

James Middlebrook, who has made a good fist as an opener on the few occasions he has been promoted, took Peters’ place at number one when play finally started at 2.30pm but he didn’t last too long as, once another short shower had been and gone, Olly Freckingham found the shoulder off his bat as extra bounce proved his undoing in the seventh over.

That promptly ushered in another squall and David Sales, who hadn’t had time to face a ball prior to the interruption, then hit two crisp boundaries before slicing a drive to gully off Alex Wyatt to continue his poor start to the season.

A relatively short session nearly always favours the bowling side and Matt Spriegel, who took 48 balls for his 11, became the Foxes’ third wicket when he tamely chipped to square leg in Robbie Williams’ first over.

This was before 50 had been posted as the relatively inexperienced visiting seamers - Matthew Hoggard, Nathan Buck, Anthony Ireland all on the injured list - made it hard work and their efforts gained another reward when Alex Wakely fell to the impressive Freckingham by dragging one that didn’t get up on to his stumps.

The pair of Rob Newton and Andrew Hall stabilised matters in the final half and hour or so but there is work to be done come tomorrow morning.