T20 Blast Preview: Durham Jets v Northants Steelbacks

When Durham and Northants faced each other at Chester-le-Street in the final game of the 2014 Natwest t20 Blast group stages, it would prove a dead game, with both sides having already been knocked out of the competition.

A quirk of the fixture list sees the two meet at the same venue to kick start the new campaign and both will be hoping for more success this time around with almost every side aiming for at least the quarter finals.

Northants, of course, won the t20 competition in 2013 in the final year before the current format was launched, and after a 2014 that was disappointing in all formats will be confident of challenging once again.

Captain Alex Wakely is back at the helm after missing 2014 through injury and on paper the Steelbacks have one of the most explosive batting line-ups in the county with the likes of Richard Levi, David Willey, Josh Cobb, Adam Rossington and Steven Crook.

If that wasn’t enough power hitting, Shahid Afridi has joined the club for the first six games and will boost not just the batting, but his leg spin will prove more than handy in a bowling attack that could be Northants’ downfall.

Durham may not have the power hitters to match Northants, especially with Ben Stokes set to miss the opening game in the England squad, and they will be relying on John Hastings to provide the middle order power and could do with Phil Mustard finding form at the top of the order.

Their bowling attack, led by the evergreen Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth, who will likely cause Northants batsmen nightmares from their last visit to Durham, could be their strongest suit, with Paul Collingwood providing vital experience.

Key Men

Durham were well on their way to defeat in the fixture between these two teams last year before John Hastings lead a remarkable counter-attack, clubbing an unbeaten 80 off just 26 balls as the home side chased down over 200. Hastings was the leading wicket taker in the Big Bash this year and is going to be crucial if Durham are to progress this season.

David Willey had his first, although brief, taste of international cricket, last week in the ODI against Ireland and backed that up with a run-a-ball century in the Championship last week. Likely to open the batting and the bowling Willey will be keen to show why he should retain his place in the ODI squad when the regular faces come back in for the New Zealand series.

Team News

Durham are without Ben Stokes and Mark Wood who are both rested ahead of the test match against New Zealand next week, but will largely stick to the group of players that have played in the Championship so far this season, with the exception of Ryan Pringle who comes into the squad to give the option of a second spinner.

Shahid Afridi will likely made his Northamptonshire debut as he begins a six game stint with the Steelbacks, while Ben Duckett could come in for his first appearance of the season. There are injury doubts over captain Alex Wakely and Josh Cobb after they suffered injuries at Derby this week, but both have been named in the squad, with Mohammed Azharullah the surprised omission.

Durham Jets squad: Mark Stoneman (c), Phil Mustard (w), Calum MacLeod, Paul Collingwood, Gordon Muchall, Scott Borthwick, Keaton Jennings, John Hastings, Ryan Pringle, Usman Arshad, Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions.

Northants Steelbacks squad: Alex Wakely (c), Adam Rossington (w), Shahid Afridi, Josh Cobb, Maurice Chambers, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Olly Stone, Graeme White, David Willey, Saif Zaib.

Weather and conditions

It will certainly not be a warm evening in the North East on Friday night but it should remain dry in Chester-le-Street, with showers not expected to come in until later in the evening.

However with conditions likely to be cloudy the toss could be crucial with both teams likely to be eager to bat first to avoid the deteriorating light towards the end of the game.

Date: Friday May 15th

Time: 5:30pm

Ground: Emirates Durham ICG

Umpires: Peter Hartley and Richard Kettleborough

Odds (SkyBet): Durham 8/11, Northamptonshire 11/10

Natwest T20 Blast Match Stats (in association with Opta):

The lowest total in English T20s was recorded in this fixture – Durham bowled Northamptonshire out for 47 in 2011.

Hughes’ double ton puts Derbyshire on the front foot

Chesney Hughes hit his first Derbyshire century in over two years as he shared on opening stand of 204 with Ben Slater, who also hit 95, as Derbyshire put themselves in position to push for victory on the final day against Northamptonshire.

Hughes and Slater’s mammoth stand set the platform for Derbyshire’s 407-5 declared with Wayne Madsen also adding a half century before setting Northants an unlikely 427 to win.  In the eight overs that remained Mark Footitt removed Stephen Peters and Kyle Coetzer to leave Northants 40-2 at the close.

Hughes hasn’t scored a Championship century since his 270 against Yorkshire more than two years ago and came up in 249 balls with 13 fours. However he would fall, trapped LBW to Rob Keogh, the over after hitting the 270.  Afterwards he admitted he was glad to end that barren patch and put the team in a position of command.

“I’m happy with that, proud of myself for the way I played and battled through the two tough years where runs were hard to come by,” he said. “To go out and play the way I did I’m pleased and put the team in a good position.

“The game was in the balance at that stage, we needed to bat and put ourselves in a good position so there was pressure and it was a case of soaking that up, thought 200 run partnership was enormous, we just wanted to get through the first 36 overs [last] night and see where we end up.

“It’s the ideal situation, give them eight overs to bat and see if
you can take a couple of wickets and we did just that so credit to Mark – he’s top class, he’s one of the best in the country so we almost expect that from him.”

Hughes and Slater had seen off the new ball with comfort on the second evening, and continued in the same cautious way for the majority of the morning adding 93 that saw two short stoppages for showers.

The pair brought up Derbyshire’s first 200 plus opening stand since Northants’ last trip to Derby in 2012, and two balls later Hughes reached three figures; despite appearing to be run out attempting a quick single with the umpire badly placed to make a decision.

Hughes would be Keogh’s only success in a marathon spell that saw the part-timer bowl 33 overs unchanged from the Racecourse end, starting shortly before lunch and only finishing when Derbyshire declared at 5.45.

Slater batted for over five hours but couldn’t follow Hughes to three figures however as his frustration eventually got the better of him, chasing a wide delivery from David Willey and edging behind.

Hashim Amla’s first appearance for Derbyshire ended with disappointed as Willey uprooted his off stump for only 20 to add to his first innings single.

As Derbyshire looked to up the pace, Scott Elstone also edged a wide Willey ball behind, the stand in captain finishing with 3-70, with Shiv Thakor scoring 28 from 25 balls before being bowled by Steven Crook.

Harvey Hosein joined Wayne Madsen in adding an unbeaten 68 before the declaration; Hosein with five boundaries and a six in his 46 while Madsen reached his half century shortly before pulling out.

Needing the highest fourth innings score in the county history to win, Northants’ reply got off to the worst possible start as Peters tamely chipped the first delivery from Footitt to midwicket, and four overs later Coetzer, who had already been dropped by Amla off Tom Taylor, nicked Footitt behind for 11.

Nightwatchman Mohammed Azharullah found the boundary four times in reaching 19 by the close, and will resume with Rob Newton on 8* as Northants require a further 387 to win on the final day.  They will likely be without captain Alex Wakely who injured his hand fielding on the opening day.

Keogh had only previously bowled 88 overs in 22 First Class matches and admitted it was a tough day for his side’s bowlers, but with a deep batting line-up has confidence they can either secure a draw or an unlikely win.

“I think I’ll sleep well tonight,” he said. “The pitch started
to spin so I knew I was going to be bowling some overs, wasn’t
expecting that many on the bounce though.

“It was very tough for the seamers, wasn’t much movement very slow and low, just knew after the first hour our job was to try and restrict them as much as possible and try and keep them to as low a run rate as possible to make our job easier.

“Looking at our batting order we bat all the way down, missing Al
[Wakely] unfortunately which is going to be a struggle for us, but they showed, they scored nicely and freely and if we dig deep I’m sure we can try and pull through.”

Willey ton keeps Northants in touch

David Willey smashed his second century of the season as, together with Josh Cobb’s 95, Northamptonshire’s lower order once again dug them out of trouble on Day Two against Derbyshire.

Northants were precariously placed at 101/6 shortly before lunch but a record breaking stand of 163 from Willey and Cobb, which came up in just 29 overs, hauled Northants to 324 and 19 runs adrift of parity.

Cobb narrowly missed out on his first century since moving from Leicestershire last winter, but newly England capped Willey did complete his second ton of the season and his career, coming in just 96 balls.

Derbyshire extended their lead to 95 as they reached 76/0 by the close, and afterwards Northants head coach David Ripley admitted it had been a match of fluctuating fortunes after Willey and Cobb got his side out of trouble.

“Certainly a rear-guard action to start with and then they certainly got on the front foot,” he said. “It was quite an exciting partnership and it was good to watch.

“It’s been an interesting match, it’s rollercoastered from one side to the other, I’m sure Derby, like us yesterday, were hoping to get a substantial first innings lead and then we counter-attacked with those two.

“We’re a bit disappointed we didn’t fare better with the new ball, but delighted those guys dug us out of a hole and the game is well poised, the last session was tough cricket, the opening batters played well to blunt us but we didn’t give them anything either.”

Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely did not bat in his side’s innings following a blow to the hand on the opening day, while Cobb was struck on the head by Mark Footitt during his innings, and was sent to hospital for precautionary tests, and Ripley had positive news on the duo.

“Alex has been for an x-ray on his hand and it didn’t show anything in terms of a break, it has swollen up quite a lot of the back of his hand, but hopefully with another day of ice and rest we hope we could hopefully use him on the last day.

Josh obviously took a blow, he seemed fine but we need to be careful with those things and he’s just gone to the hospital to see if everything’s good but again we’re expecting him to be back and probably fielding tomorrow.”

Shortly before lunch Northants had been in danger on following on, still 93 adrift of that mark and with only three wickets remaining in Wakely’s absence after Derbyshire’s bowlers dominated the morning.

Nightwatchman opener Mohammed Azharullah lasted just five balls of the morning, chipping a catch to midwicket off Taylor, and when Stephen Peters (14) edged Footitt behind and Rob Newton was caught at third slip off Ben Cotton’s second ball, Northants were 30/3.

Kyle Coetzer’s return to the first team ended with just 13 to his name as he also fell to Footitt, before Rossington edgedTaylor to slip. Rob Keogh backed up his century against Lancashire with a composed 31, but when he fell in the same fashion as Rossington the visitors were still 93 adrift of the follow on.

However those hopes were soon a distance memory as Cobb and Willey came together, the latter initially cautious with Cobb the aggressor, contributing the majority of the first 50, bringing up a third half-century for his new county off just 63 balls, although he did need treatment having been hit on the helmet by Footitt earlier on.

Matt Critchey dropped Willey on 19 off his own bowling, and that proved to be the catalyst for him to move rapidly through the gears as Northants passed the follow-on mark.

Having taken 46 balls to get to 20, Willey would require only 50 more to score the 80 runs that took his to a second century of the season, and his career, smashing Critchley for consecutive sixes to start the onslaught.

The pair’s century stand was Northants’ seventh of the season, equaling their total for the entire of last year, but just after beating the county record for the seventh wicket against Derbyshire, and with Cobb five short of a century, Shiv Thakor found the breakthrough, Cobb edging a drive behind.

Willey was on 64 when Cobb departed but needed just five more overs to reach three figures, cutting Footitt to the boundary, his tenth four to go with six sixes in his savage knock.

He departed in the next over however, slicing a drive off Thakor to hole out at long-off and after Steven Crook’s breezy 22 was ended by Footitt, Northants had added 200 runs in 32 overs of the afternoon session to close within 19 of parity.

However, Derbyshire’s openers ground out a solid, if unspectacular unbroken stand of 76 in the 36 overs that remained in the day. Chesney Hughes was the more aggressive with six fours in his 41 while Slater found the boundary five times to close on 27, the pair taking the blunt out of the new ball.

LVCC Preview: Derbyshire v Northants

Derbyshire and Northamptonshire meet in the County Championship for the first time since late 2012 as both sides look to build on positive starts to the new season.

Since that game, both sides have been promoted and immediately relegated
from Division One, Derbyshire in 2013 and Northamptonshire last year, with
both now back in the second tier looking to find their feet once more.

Derbyshire may have suffered a defeat to Lancashire in the opening game, but are expected to challenge for promotion, and followed that defeat with a
thumping win at Gloucestershire before a heavily rain-affected draw at
Cardiff against Glamorgan last week.

Martin Guptil may have joined up with the New Zealand squad, but they are
boosted by the arrival of Hashim Amla as a more than useful replacement.

Northants meanwhile have also started positively following a dismal 2014,
having the better of a draw against Gloucestershire before ending a 21 game
wait for a Championship win at Leicester.

They also remain unbeaten having contested an evenly matched draw with
Lancashire last week. Captain Alex Wakely has challenged the top order to
start contributing more runs, with the final five wickets more than doubling
the score in four of their five innings this season.

Key Men

Martin Guptil’s runs were crucial for Derbyshire in the opening two rounds
of fixtures, and the hosts will be hoping that Hashim Amla can land on his
feet. The number 3 ranked test batsman in the world, if in form could make
light work of division two attacks.

Stephen Peters was almost out the Wantage Road door at the end of last
season having been stripped of the captaincy after a disappointing campaign.
However the 35 decided to see out the final three years of his contract and
has looked in good touch, with three consecutive half centuries opening the
batting, and will be looking to turn that into a big one this week.

Team News

Hashim Amla is set to make his Derbyshire debut as a replacement for Martin Guptil who is with the New Zealand squad, while bowlers Tony Palladino and Tom Taylor have returned to the squad having been rested for the game at Glamorgan last week, with Ben Cotton missing out.

Wes Durston remains on the sidelines with injury, while Billy Godleman
serves the second match of his suspension for a dangerous throw against
Gloucestershire in the opening game.

Derbyshire (from): Ben Slater, Chesney Hughes, Hashim Amla, Wayne Madsen, Scott Elstone, Shiv Thakor, Alex Hughes, Harvey Hosein, Matt Critchley, Tony Palladino, Tom Taylor, Ben Cotton, Mark Footitt.

Northamptonshire welcome back newly England capped David Willey into the
squad after he was rested last week, while Kyle Coetzer is also added to the
11 who drew with Lancashire. Richard Levi suffered a slight dislocation in
that game but is included in the squad.

Northamptonshire (from):  Richard Levi, Stephen Peters, Alex Wakely (c), Rob Newton, Rob Keogh, Adam Rossington, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Rory
Kleinveldt, Olly Stone, Mohammed Azharullah, David Willey, Kyle Coetzer.

Ripley: Draw against Red Rose would be a good result

Northamptonshire head coach David Ripley said his side had a point to prove against Lancashire as they go into the final day at Wantage Road looking to secure a draw.

The hosts closed Day Three on 42/2, still seven runs adrift of Lancashire after Peter Siddle’s 89 had boosted the visitors from 221/6, while Ashwell Prince turned his unbeaten overnight century into 153 before falling.

Northants have lost their last four encounters against the Red Rose, including an innings and 200 run defeat at Old Trafford last season, and if they can come away with a share of the spoils, with rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon, Ripley admitted it would be a good result.

“We haven’t gone very well against Lancashire in the last couple of seasons, bit of an understatement to be honest,” he said. “So we had something to prove, to ourselves and them that they’re not going to come here and boss us.

“I think we’ve shown we can do that, we’ve had our moments to really grab the game, more so when we got that sixth wicket today but we couldn’t push on from that, they really dented us and played well and it’s been a fairly even three days.

“It was an important little partnership between Stephen [Peters] and Rob [Keogh], couple of early wickets and bit of momentum it was a difficult session for us, they could come and give it everything so I think it was important we got through only two down.

“We’ve still got to have a good half hour tomorrow morning to hopefully get us the points for the draw, a high scoring draw against Lancashire come the end of the day might not be a bad result for us.

“Our two home games are Lancashire and Surrey, and they’re favourites for promotion so it’s kind of in our thoughts if we bat well on what will be goodish pitches, high scoring draws could easily be a good result against them”

Rory Kleinveldt took 5/99 in Lancashire’s innings, following his four wickets in the second innings at Leicester last week, and after a difficult opening game to the season Ripley was delighted to see him take an 11th first class five wicket haul.

The South African is a rarity as an overseas player available for the entire campaign, and Ripley is confident he can play a major role.

“I’ve been really pleased because he’s come over, he really wants to do well he’s a smashing lad, he’s got on very well in the dressing room, a popular figure already, a bit of a gentle giant he is and a skilful bowler.

“We thought he’d bowl well in English conditions and he bowled well here, he bowled well at Leicestershire, was maybe a bit rusty in the first game getting used to the ball we use and English conditions but we see him being a good attribute for us throughout the season.”

Lancashire’s overseas bowler Siddle was also the visitor’s headline performer, but with  bat rather than ball, as he hit a composed 89, having come in the fifth over of the day after Lancashire had lost two early wickets to fall to 221/6, at that point still 166 runs behind.

However, his highest domestic first-class score, his only century coming for Australia A against Scotland in a tour match in 2013, and Ashwell Prince’s seventh wicket stand of exactly 100 rescued Lancashire, with Siddle sharing another useful eighth wicket partnership of 77 with Tom Bailey.

Prince’s was final dismissed on 153, to end a staggering run of 410 runs and 13 hours and 24 minutes at the wicket against Northants, following his unbeaten 257 in that Old Trafford victory last season.

Siddle said they still harbour hopes of victory on the final day, but admitted it will be tough on a wicket offering little for the bowlers.

“Hopefully the weather stays nice for us tomorrow and the wind cuts down a little bit so it’s not too bad,” he said. “Another couple of early wickets tomorrow morning will put a bit more pressure on them, but just see how we go first thing.

“It’s going to be hard work, just got to be patient, the wicket’s not offering up much so not much we can do, just bowl good areas and see what happens.

“It was good fun [his 89], nice to spend some time out there, was a bit windy and cold so I didn’t want to bowl in it so I thought if I batted longer it would reduce the overs.

“I didn’t expect to be out there so soon this but to bat with [Prince], he’s a class player, he showed that again today and got us into a good position and we were lucky enough to get some good partnerships along the way to the finish and get us to a nice total.

“I think that was our plan to bat as long as we can, see how points we get, to finish with a 50-run lead I think from where we were at certain positions of the game very happy with the finish.”

Despite frustrations, Crook confident of Northants’ position

Northamptonshire may be without David Willey this week, but his absence wasn’t felt with the bat. Steven Crook came into the side and smashed 91 to continue a remarkable run of scoring from the number eight position.

The pattern of Northants’ season has been the top order making starts but not kicking on, and again they looked precarious placed on 197-6 overnight. Crook’s 91, however, as well as 57 from Adam Rossington and a last wicket stand of 52 allowed them to reach 385.

Crook has had to bide his time in the second team so far this season, but has been in form with runs and wickets. Although disappointed not to make his return to the side, with what would have been only his second first-class century, he said he was glad to make a positive contribution.

“I’ve been around for a while now and sometimes you play and sometimes you don’t, it’s just one of those things really in sport,” he said. “So it’s been a little bit frustrating but I knew that my chance would come. I’ve just got to grab that chance and do my best.

“Today with the bat it’s worked out pretty well, so as long as I can keep contributing to the team I’m happy with that.

“Sometimes you get them [centuries] and sometimes you don’t, and more often for me I don’t get them. It’s pretty frustrating but it was nice to get some runs and get us in a good position in the game.

“From a personal note it might be a little bit disappointing but it’s put us in a decent position. We come out tomorrow and take a few wickets and we’re in a good position, so pleased with my contribution.”

Northants reduced Lancashire to 3-2 in reply but Ashwell Prince came to the visitors’ rescue with a classy unbeaten 104 as the hosts recovered to close on 216-4, 169 runs behind. Prince has now scored 361 undefeated runs since Northants last dismissed him. Crook admitted the South African’s quality, but said Northants were frustrated not to be able to take a couple of half chances he offered.

Despite Prince’s century, Crook believes Northants remain in a good position, and with the pitch showing signs of uneven bounce, is confident they can strike early in the morning.

“He’s a good player, he’s done it time and time again at every level he plays at so it’s pretty frustrating. We had a couple of chances to get him out but we couldn’t quite take those.

“But I think there’s a little bit in there if we get the ball in the right area to give us a bit of something to look forward to tomorrow and hopefully put a few more wickets on the tally.

“It’s a good wicket to bat on, I think it might go a little bit up and down over the next couple of days but you’ve got to be right on the money. If you’re not you can go around the park.

“We’ve just got to come in tomorrow and bowl well and make sure we’re putting the balls in the right area and challenge the right zones. We’re confident and with another couple of wickets on that I think we’re really in the game.”

Prince came to the wicket after just 17 deliveries of Lancashire’s innings following the early dismissal of Luis Reece and Alvaro Petersen. He praised his team mates for the support they provided, first Paul Horton in a third wicket stand of 112, and then an unbroken 77 with Alex Davies.

Davies has made 89 and 99 in his last two innings, and Prince said he liked the look of the 20-year-old wicketkeeper, who has taken the opportunity to begin the season with the gloves with Jos Butler on England duty.

“I think obviously starting with losing two early wickets, in the end it’s a good day,” he said. “I thought Horton played well again today, and that partnership was crucial after the two early wickets.

“I thought Davies played really well again this afternoon, he’s a good young player, a gutsy young player and he’s aggressive as well in playing his strokes and very positive so I thought they played really well.

“He’s obviously been in the second team for a while with some established wicket keepers around and there was lot of talk back then that he was a good batsman and the way the season’s started he’s showing that.”

Wakely disappointed with bad light call

Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely said the umpires made the wrong call in not bringing the players off for bad light sooner as two late wickets in gloomy conditions gave Lancashire the edge on a rain disrupted opening day at Wantage Road.

After half centuries from Wakely and Stephen Peters, Northants were 197/4 as the light closed in, the umpires keeping allow play to continue just long enough for Kyle Jarvis to dismiss Rob Keogh and Josh Cobb in successive deliveries, before coming off for bad light just six balls later.

Wakely praised Peters’ innings, scoring a second consecutive fifty with his 58, but admitted he wants the top order to make the bit hundreds, to allow Northants powerful middle and lower order to come in without the pressure of having to rescue the innings.

“I was disappointed with that to be honest,” he said on the decision to play on in the deteriorating light. “I think you often see that, after one wicket the umpires are scared to go off and it so often happens you lose another one and then they come off.

“You could see it happening, it was so dark out there, I personally thought it was a bit unfair but got to do what the umpires say, the rules changed so we don’t get the decision anymore it just happens and on this occasion I think they got it wrong.”

“Pedro [Peters] was striking the ball beautifully, as he has been all season, I know he’ll be frustrated he hasn’t gone on and got those big scores but they came back and regrouped and were a different side when they came out after lunch.

“We want our top order to try and get the big hundreds we’re looking for, unfortunately we’re not getting there, but if we’re going to have the likes of Rossington, Willey and Keogh coming in playing their shots we’re going to be in a great position, just unfortunately at the moment they’re coming in under pressure.”

Wakely’s 59 was his first 50+ since the game against Kent in September 2013 after he missed the entire 2014 season with a ruptured Achilles, and despite admitting he was frustrated not to be able to kick on and make a century, he is confident in his current form.

“My opinion on it has sort of changed, I’ve felt very good all season, I’ve felt in a good space and very relaxed, I’ve been hitting the ball off the middle of the bat.

“Bit frustrated it’s the same old story, I haven’t been going on but I haven’t been thinking about it, if I keep batting the way I am I’m going to get big runs, I’m not trying to analyse my game too much, just trying to see ball hit ball and it’s working quite well so far.

“Siddle bowled quite a good spell there, four or five overs which was quite tough, it’s very frustrating when you lose those battles and get out, you want to come through the other side unfortunate today it wasn’t to be, it’s not put us in a sticky position but the game could go either way, we need to come back tomorrow and try and get as many as we can.”

After winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, Lancashire bowled too short in the opening session, with too many loose deliveries allowing Northants to reach 115/1 at tea, 88 of which came in either boundaries or threes.

Head coach Ashley Giles admitted his side had been ‘sloppy’ in the first session but praised the way they came back after tea, and said he had simply told his side to relax in the evening session.

“I thought we were a little bit sloppy up front, almost as though we’d taken our time to get into the game with the late start and everything happening in a bit of a hurry after lunch,” he admitted.

“Thought we could have bowled a little bit better in bits of that first session however second session I thought we bowled beautifully to pick up six for 200 odd we’re in a good spot.

“It was more a message to just relax [at tea] I know I’ve said that a lot in the press, can’t expect sides to roll over and to take five for 50 every match, sides are going to fight and they fought.

“We bowled some bad balls and they hit them for four, we’ve got to concentrate on our own skill and putting the ball in the right area and putting them under pressure, and I thought in the second session we did that really well.”

“It’s looks a pretty good wicket, the sort of wicket where if you get the ball consistently in the right area, you can get some joy as a bowler but if you’re off slightly you’re going to get punished, quick outfield, small boundary on one side you can score quickly.

“If we do that, try and bowl them out quite quickly and then bat big in our first innings, that’s always the plan, it sounds simple but that’s got to be the way we’ve got to look to do.”

Kleinveldt efforts secure long-awaited Northants win

Rory Kleinveldt took four wickets as Northamptonshire secured their first win in 21 County Championship games, beating Leicestershire by 114 runs at Grace Road. Mohammad Azharullah also chipped in with three wickets.

Beginning the day needing nine wickets for victory, Kleinveldt and Azharullah, as well as two wickets from Olly Stone, ensured they made light work of the task, with Leicestershire bowled out for 283 before tea, with Niall O’Brien’s 58 the only resistance of note.

After a winless campaign last season the victory was Northants’ first since beating Glamorgan at the end of August 2013, and captain Alex Wakely was delighted to end that run and praised Kleinveldt’s efforts on the final day.

“For us getting the first win is a big thing,” he said. “We’ve played very good cricket the last two games; it was very frustrating against Gloucestershire but a different game here, there was a lot more in it for the bowlers and ultimately we played some pretty good cricket.

“We were stuck in on a pitch that, in my opinion, was slightly underprepared, it was a very tough start, but as we have done over the last few years, time and time again we’ve got ourselves out of trouble.

“I still feel our top order has to fire but apart from that we’re in a pretty good state, we’re a very close unit and we’re showing that at the moment. We had one bad session where we could have nearly lost the game when we bowled poorly but we talked about it and came back pretty strong.

“I thought Rory was on fire today, when it’s difficult to get the ball out of someone’s hand that’s what you want as a captain! You want someone who can run in and bowl all day and that’s exactly what he did.

“I think everyone in this game has done exceptionally, with only four seamers it’s very difficult, so credit has to go to them but we have such a good squad, if we can keep everybody fit we’re not relying on anyone.”

While David Willey had a quiet final day, his 88 in the second innings allowed Northants to post a total well beyond Leicestershire’s reach, and Wakely backed his vice-captain to make his England debut in the ODI against Ireland next Friday.

“I think he will get the chance, I think he has to play,” Wakely added. “What he’s got, especially in white ball cricket, you can’t ignore, and in four day stuff he’s hitting the ball as well as I’ve ever seen him.

“He’s working as hard as he can on his bowling. I know he’s playing in the second team in the t20 to get some white ball practice under his belt, he wants it more than ever, he’s fitter than ever so I don’t see why England wouldn’t pick him, for me he’s a shoe-in.”

After Willey had removed Dan Redfern last night, Leicestershire began the final day 44-1, but Northants took just four overs to strike as Azharullah breached the defence of Angus Robson to remove his off stump for 32.

Mark Cosgrove followed shortly after, trapped LBW for 2 off Stone, and before the first hour was out, Neil Pinner (12) was also back in the pavilion, falling LBW to Azharullah to leave Leicestershire 93-4.

O’Brien wasn’t going down without a fight against his former side however as the Irishman made a typically punchy half-century, taking the attack to Northants as he shared a stand of 59 with Ned Eckersley, who battled over two hours for his 37, but fell shortly before lunch, also trapped LBW for Kleinveldt’s first wicket of the day.

O’Brien completed a 59-ball half-century half an hour into the afternoon but in the following over Kleinveldt’s double strike ended any nerves he might have been causing Northants, with Wells (13) becoming the fourth batsman to fall LBW, before O’Brien was bowled three balls later.

Azharullah picked up his third wicket as Ben Raine edged a wide delivery behind, before Clint McKay delayed Northants’ celebrations by clubbing 30 in a ninth wicket stand of 37 with Ollie Freckingham.

However, one shot too many saw him pick out Rob Newton on the square leg boundary off Stone, before Kleinveldt returned to wrap up the match, as last man Charlie Shreck edged behind, and the Northants players could dust off their victory song at last.

Willey ensures Leicestershire’s wait set to continue

David Willey celebrated his first call up to the full England squad by smashing 88 and taking a wicket as Northants dominated Day Three against Leicestershire at Grace Road.

After Willey’s innings took Northants to 429 all out in their second innings, setting Leicestershire a target of 376, Willey then removed Dan Redfern to leave the hosts 44/1 at the close, Northants requiring a further nine wickets for a first Championship win since August 2013.

An early morning wobble had seen them sip to 142/5 but Rob Newton and Josh Cobb steadied the innings with half-centuries, before Willey and Rory Kleinveldt’s brutal partnership of 97 took Northants past the 400 mark.

Willey is the first Northamptonshire player to be named in a full England squad since Monty Panesar played in the 2009 Ashes series and he said it was a special moment to follow his dad in getting the call up.

“I got the call yesterday evening from the head of selectors so a special, special moment for me,” he said after play. “I hoped that I might get a look, knowing they’re coming back from the West Indies, and very pleased and honoured to not only play for Northants but follow my dad’s footsteps for England.

“I think everyone knows it was a bit of a disappointing winter for the England side and there are some new faces, obviously largely because the guys are in the West Indies, but some opportunities there for us and it would just be a pleasure to get out there and get an England cap.

“I’d like to think I might not have been far away [before a back injury at the end of 2013], there was a T20 World Cup and obviously the 50-over [World Cup], personally I was playing fairly well at the back end of 2013 in one-day cricket, but that’s how sport works, you get injured, miss out and start at the bottom of the pile again.”

Willey’s 88 followed his maiden first class century in the opening Championship match against Gloucestershire, and he is confident they can do what they failed to on that occasion and take the ten wickets required for victory.

“I seem to be seeing the ball quite nicely, just need to keep in my shell a little bit sometimes, get a bit giddy, I’m bowling alright, not quite at my best I don’t think in the red ball stuff but one day cricket’s very different so pretty pleased with my cricket at the minute and I’m really enjoying it.

“If we put the ball in the right areas there’s still enough in the wicket to make things happen so if we pitch up tomorrow and bowl like we did early on yesterday there’s a good chance we can take nine wickets and come away with the win.”

Resuming on 105/2, Northants were soon in trouble on the third morning as three wickets fell for 13 runs in 20 deliveries, Wakely miscuing a pull off Ollie Freckingham to mid-on to go for 40 before Rob Keogh (1) and Adam Rossington (7) fell to Clint McKay, bowled and caught behind respectively.

With a lead of only 88, Leicestershire were eyeing a first Championship win of their own in over two years, but Newton and Cobb battled through to lunch, though Cobb was dropped at slip by Mark Cosgrove without score.

A match that had remained fairly level throughout the first seven sessions then swung decisively for Northants in the afternoon as they smashed 180 runs in 34 overs to take the lead beyond 300, including half-century partnerships for the sixth, seventh and eighth wickets.

Newton completed a second half-century of the match before falling for 58, bowled by McKay after a stand of 78 with Cobb, but Willey ensured the momentum continued, taking the attack to the new ball.

Cobb, returning to Grace Road for the first time since leaving to joining Northants, reached his half century off 120 balls, but departed the following over for 54, strangled down the leg side off McKay, but that only set the stage for Kleinveldt to join Willey, their brutal partnership taking only 71 balls.

Willey reached a 43-ball fifty with his 11th four, while Kleinveldt clubbed two sixes and eight boundaries, reaching his own half century in just 32 balls, before holing out at deep midwicket for 56.

There was still time for Olly Stone to record a first-class best of 28 in adding 47 with Willey, who took Freckingham for 18 in the over after tea but then only faced one of the next 48 deliveries.

Stone was bowled by Shreck before Willey fell in an attempt to reach a second century, slicing a drive off Shreak to be caught at deep point.

With Leicestershire requiring their third highest chase in Championship history, Willey soon struck as Dan Redfern loosely drove straight to Rob Newton at point on 6 in the sixth over.

Willey’s day would have one slight blemish however as he put down a tough low chance at slip off Ned Eckersley in the following Kleinveldt over, with Eckersley and Angus Robson making it to the close without further lose, and will resume on 25 and 6 respectively – 332 runs adrift of the target.

See-saw game swings back in the balance

Stephen Peters hit a half-century to leave Northamptonshire’s match against Leicestershire evenly poised after the second day, after Olly Stone had earlier taken three wickets to help bowl the hosts out for 305.

Starting their second innings with a deficit of 54, opener Peters hit his first 50 of the season, and despite falling shortly after without adding to his score, captain Alex Wakely’s unbeaten 28 saw Northants through to the close on 105/2, a lead of 51.

Wakely’s men would have hoped for a first innings lead after five wickets in the morning session, with two apiece for Stone and David Willey, reduced Leicestershire to 176/6, but an eighth wicket stand of 87 between Ben Raine and Clint McKay took the hosts past 300.

Stone signed a new contract last week keeping him at Wantage Road until the end of next summer and after play said he was glad to back that up with a positive display with the team happy with their position going into the third day.

“The news of me extending was really nice after an injury-hit season last year,” he said. “It’s nice to come out and just show what I can do again and I’m just grateful to be playing cricket and hopefully can perform well over the next couple of days.

“We knew last night we had bowled poorly and if we went at it today wickets would fall in clusters, and if we were patient they would come, Dave and I got together and make sure we were giving them nothing.

“We’re really positive about it, we’re saying if we can get a big enough lead, even 250 and bat all day tomorrow, it gives us a very good chance of winning the game on day four.

“The lads up front got stuck in and got on well and then Wakers and Newts at the end finished it off nicely so we’re very happy with the way it’s gone, and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

It was a morning of two halves for Northants’ bowlers as Angus Robson and Ned Eckersley blunted any attempts of early breakthroughs with a determined partnership to take Leicestershire from their overnight 102-1 to 139-1.

But the introduction of David Willey and Olly Stone provided the inspiration and after building a spell of pressure, Robson tried to force one from Willey and edged to slip to depart for 75, sparking the second hour collapse.

Eckersley (28) edged Stone to second slip, Willey bowled Neil Pinner off an inside edge without scoring, before Stone produced a fine delivery to clean bowl Mark Cosgrove for 11. When former Northants man Niall O’Brien (nine) was caught behind in the penultimate over before lunch the hosts had lost five wickets for 27 runs.

Stone picked up his third shortly after lunch as Tom Wells (14) edged behind, but Northants’ hopes of a first innings lead were frustrated by McKay and Raine’s partnership, adding 87 in 17 overs to swing the momentum once more.

However with the new ball imminent, both fell on 47 looking for quick runs, McKay holing out to long-on from Josh Cobb, while Raine was bowled by Azharullah, and Rory Kleinveldt finished off the innings, removing last man Charlie Shreck for nought.

Peters got the Northants reply off to a flyer with three consecutive boundaries off Charlie Shreck, while Richard Levi was in more watchful mode, taking 42 balls to find the boundary. Levi had curbed his natural attacking intent but never looked comfortable, surviving a drop a third man off Raine, but departed two overs later for 18, edging the same bowler to second slip.

Peters and Wakely both rode their luck with dropped catches, at second slip and fine leg respectively, but appeared to be seeing Northants through to the close, the former reaching a first half-century of the season off 89 balls.

However with the light closing in, Peters couldn’t add to his tally, falling in the following over, slicing Shreck to the gully. After a short break for bad light, Rob Newton joined Wakely in seeing out the remaining seven overs with few alarms, to take Northants’ total into three figures just before the close.