Stephen Peters hit his fourth half century of the County Championship season but after an opening day washout, only 28 overs were possible on the second day of the Division Two match between Northamptonshire and Surrey at Wantage Road.
Peters made 64 not out, with Rob Newton unbeaten on 28 as Northants reached 107-2 in the two hours of play between lunch and tea, before a hail storm during the tea interval ended proceedings for the day.
After no play on the opening day, further morning showers meant no action was possible before lunch, with play eventually getting underway at 2pm, Surrey opting to bowl first upon winning the toss. With Kevin Pietersen unavailable, Chris Tremlett injured and Matt Dunn rested, Surrey gave a debut to on-loan bowler Luke Fletcher, with Stuart Meaker coming in for his first Championship game of the season while Dom Sibley replaced Pietersen.
Northants meanwhile made one change with Olly Stone coming in for Rory Kleinveldt as the hosts continued their rotation policy for the fast bowlers.
In tricky conditions openers Peters and Kyle Coetzer scored just seven runs from the opening seven overs before Fletcher struck in his fourth over in Surrey colours, trapping Coetzer lbw for three. Peters made it through the tough opening and soon found his stride, taking nine off Meaker’s first over, and another three boundaries followed off Fletcher to bring up the Northants 50 in the 15th over.
However, it was more testing for Northants captain Alex Wakely and having survived a loud LBW appeal off Fletcher and edging the same bowler through the slips, he eventually fell for eight, caught at second slip after Tom Curran had switched to the Turner Stand End.
Despite fifties in both innings against Leicestershire at Grace Road, Rob Newton had only scored 28 in four innings at Wantage Road this season, but would double that tally. He began positively as he hit Meaker for four boundaries in two overs, the last narrowly wide of the man in the gully. Runs were beginning to flow for the hosts and in the following over Peters viciously cut Curran for four to bring up his half century in 63 balls, accelerating after scoring three form his first 20 deliveries.
The returning Fletcher ensured the boundaries dried up s as tea approached, but a four apiece for Newton and Peters took their partnership to 52 at a run a ball, also taking Northants’ score past the 100 mark.
Bad light closed in and saw the players leave the field five minutes before the scheduled tea break, followed by a hail storm which left the outfield covered in a white dusting. With no further play possible, 164 overs have now been lost in the opening two days.
Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely was content with his sides batting display and praised Peters and Newton’s positive approach. “It’s been a frustrating couple of days with the rain, but it’s one of the things we have to deal with in English conditions. We know it’s dodgy sometimes, but I think we actually ended up in quite a decent position as it was a tricky session,” he said.
“He [Peters] played really well, so did Rob, they’re both very positive and I think that was the way to go on a wicket like that where it was doing plenty, you need to be positive and they both played pretty well there.”
Surrey assistant coach Stuart Barnes admitted his side could have bowled better but was happy with the contribution of debutant Fletcher. “I think it was just okay, we put them under pressure, when we got the ball in the right areas we proved once again that we could ask some serious questions from the batters,” he said.
“We would have liked them more than two down but it is what it is and we need to do it better and learn from today when we hit tomorrow.”
“He’s [Fletcher] been looking forward to getting a red ball in his hand which he hasn’t had much opportunity to do. It’s great to have him in the changing room and he gave us a lot of control. Luke set the tone for us.”