Centurion Emilio excels as Northants start well against Lancashire

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Emilio Gay made his first century since September 2022 as Northamptonshire’s batsmen dominated the first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford.

Gay, who was dismissed for 144, one short of his career best, proved that the pitch used for the recent Ashes Test was good for a day or two yet as he stroked 14 boundaries in a 342-minute innings.

It pushed his side to post an impressive 302 for five as they seek the win that would help them climb off the bottom of the Division One table

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For most of the day, the Northamptonshire opener batted with his captain and former Lancashire all-rounder, Luke Procter, and the pair’s 207-run fourth-wicket stand earned their side only their second batting bonus point of the season.

Emilio Gay impressed on the first day of Northants' clash with Lancashire (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Emilio Gay impressed on the first day of Northants' clash with Lancashire (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Emilio Gay impressed on the first day of Northants' clash with Lancashire (photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And some of the landmarks Gay and Procter reached also reflected their county’s recent batting travails. They shared what was only their county’s third century stand of the season, and their achievement in batting from lunch until tea gave the side its first wicketless session since May 2022.

Perhaps more worthy of celebration was their achievement in setting a new fourth-wicket record for Northamptonshire against Lancashire, beating the unbroken 158 put on by Mushtaq Mohammed and Jim Watts at Liverpool in 1972

Yet the day had begun well for Lancashire. Seamer George Balderson made the first breakthrough of the morning when his opening delivery tempted Ricardo Vasconcelos into a loose drive that was well caught by Steven Croft at backward point.

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And Balderson’s seventh delivery of the match was clipped off his toes by Justin Broad straight to Jack Morley at midwicket.

That left Northamptonshire on 29 for two but Gay and Sam Whiteman put on 30 for the third wicket before Whiteman came down the wicket to Morley’s well-flighted slow left-arm and was stumped by Phil Salt for 20.

However, after helping Gay take Northamptonshire to 74 for three at lunch, Procter played a perfect second-fiddle role as the pair consolidated their earlier progress.

Home skipper Keaton Jennings rotated his bowlers imaginatively.

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Half an hour after lunch, the two left-arm spinners, Morley and Tom Hartley were operating in tandem, and Gay had an escape on 60 when the Lancashire captain dropped a sharp chance at slip off Morley.

The rest of the session, though, belonged to the visitors, who were 191 for three at tea, by which time Lancashire’s spinning contingent had been increased to four, with Luke Wells bowling leg spin from the James Anderson End and Tom Bailey giving his off-spin a relatively rare outing.

In the evening session, Jennings used his spinners until the new ball became available but neither they nor the seamers could part Gay and Procter, until Will Williams brought one back off the seam to have Procter lbw for 75, his fourth half-century in 12 innings after an injury-hit start to the season.

Six overs before the close, Gay drove tiredly at a full length ball from Balderson and edged a catch to Salt, but Saif Zaib and nightwatchman Dom Leech, a Yorkshire loanee, ensured that Northamptonshire lost no more wickets before the close.

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