Northamptonshire ended the day on 133-8 against Lancashire in a first day where the pitch seemed to wreak havoc with both sides.
Lancashire got off to the worst possible start when Paul Horton was caught by Andrew Hall off Mohammed Azharullah. Northants’ bowling attack then proceeded to tear through the Red Rose’s top order, but there was little time for revelling as their own innings was to take a similar turn.
Azharullah and Steven Crook took three wickets apiece, while Hall and Oli Stone also weighted in with two each. Eleventh-man James Anderson made a spirited 28 off 18 balls until he too fell to Azharullah, leaving the Lightning all out for a feeble 119.
Before a ball had been bowled, all eyes were on Glen Chapple, who last week announced that he would be succeeding Peter Moores as Lancashire head coach in the wake of the latter’s departure for England. The veteran captain started the fight back with his side languishing, but could only manage 26.
Then came Northants’ turn at a batting collapse, with openers Stephen Peters and James Middlebrook each falling for 8 runs. The Old Trafford side might still be hoping for Moores and his fellow England selectors to look to his old county when choosing his squads for the summer, and neither Anderson nor Simon Kerrigan did their chances of international selection any harm.
Anderson took another five-wicket haul to make his return to the England fold a near certainty, while Kerrigan took the wicket of Ben Duckett on 35 and continues to show – at least at county level – that he is deserving of another chance with England to banish the memories of his painful debut against Australia in 2013. Seamer Chapple was effective with the ball, too, and took the wickets of Middlebrook and then Hall.
Jos Buttler, another England hopeful, looked effective behind the stumps for Lancashire, but his attempts at displacing Matt Prior continue to be thwarted by his inconsistency with the bat. Buttler scored just one and may well see himself overlooked in favour of Jonny Bairstow for the upcoming Tests against Sri Lanka and India – that is, if Prior is replaced after all.
It looks as if Northants’ hit and miss start to the County Championship is set to continue, as do their struggles with injury while David Sales and Alex Wakely remain out. Lancashire, though, may have to wait a little while longer for their first win of the new season after defeat to Nottinghamshire was followed by a draw with Warwickshire in their last outing.
Northants lead by 14 at stumps, with Matthew Spriegel on 43, Stone on 7, and with it all to play for on Day Two.
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