County prove that they’re not just a pushover

Adam Rossington scored his maiden County Championship half century in Northants' second inningsAdam Rossington scored his maiden County Championship half century in Northants' second innings
Adam Rossington scored his maiden County Championship half century in Northants' second innings
Where has this been?

After three months of consistently heavy beatings, Northamptonshire finally showed that they have got both the ability and bottle to compete in Division One of the LV= County Championship.

Yes they lost by 52 runs to Somerset and their record now stands at a cringeworthy played 11, won none and lost nine but for once they proved that they have more to them than being easy meat for the opposition.

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Half centuries from Adam Rossington, who has been a breath of fresh air, Kyle Coetzer, Andrew Hall and David Willey steered the hosts from an overnight 108-5 to a valiant 351, just 52 runs shy of what would’ve been a victory to put others to shame.

The fact that going into the final session they had the visitors visibly worried says plenty for the fight shown and while those extra 50 runs were never going to be a doddle, to get so close given their dire previous form is something to hold on to.

First up, the visitors made early inroads as nightwatchman Olly Stone didn’t extend his stay too far into the morning session, pushing firmly at Gregory and being taken by Marcus Trescothick at second slip.

But while it would have been easy to predict a lower order crumble and premature finish, as has happened all too often this season, Coetzer and Rossington had other ideas.

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With the pitch remaining good - there was a bit of variable bounce but nothing untoward - Somerset’s attack were forced to plug away and hope that the indiscretions of the first innings resurfaced.

Then, a combination of a pitch offering consistent movement and a batting order unwilling to show the required patience augured poorly for the hosts and so it proved.

James Kettleborough aside, the top order had again opted for looseness ahead of watchfulness on the third evening but this morning the lesson had seemingly been learned.

Both Coetzer and Rossington played straight, looked to score but not at the expense of being selective and forced Trescothick to employ boundary sweepers in a semi-defensive role.

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It was proving effective, as sound, time-proven methods tend to do, and putting a spanner in the Somerset works but that changed a minute before the lunch break.

The Scotsman had been spilled by Nick Compton in the gully as he flashed a drive at Gregory shortly before reaching his half century but the seamer wasn’t to be denied his 10th wicket of the contest when he speared a delivery into the leg stump.

More of the same would have been the County’s desire heading into the afternoon and that is what they got.

Rossington, who would do a good job for someone were he to leave Middlesex, passed 50 for the first time in the Championship when he pulled Alfonso Thomas over the midwicket boundary but midway through the session Craig Overton, a touch fortunately as it appeared to be missing leg, had him adjudged leg before as he worked to leg.

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With more than 150 required there was a chance, though a small one, while Hall was still there especially as he had Willey for company.

The pair chipped away, Hall bringing up the third 50 of the innings and his third of the summer, as the target went below three figures and what crowd there was, all of a sudden, became that bit more vocal.

When tea arrived, a scenario few would’ve predicted at 11am, the partnership had grown to 69 and the runs required tally reduced to 84.

So, going into the evening there was an evident tenseness to proceedings, felt by the County because there was possibly an opportunity to salvage something tangible from the months of wreckage and by Somerset because they had the hosts at their mercy and loosened their grip.

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With every boundary, especially the six that took Willey to a second 50 in the match, earning a ever more excitable round of applause, the feeling grew that a remarkable success could actually be pulled off.

But hope is often the biggest killer of all and the final blow came in a five-minutre spell.

Gregory, who finished with match figures of 11-122, hit Willey in front with a very full ball and in the next over Hall edged Overton to first slip.

An excellent day’s cricket and a defiant rearguard which, sadly, came to nothing.