500-up for brilliant Sanderson as Northants play out rain-ravaged draw with Foxes

Ben Sanderson claimed his 500th wicket for Northamptonshire on the final day of the draw at LeicestershireBen Sanderson claimed his 500th wicket for Northamptonshire on the final day of the draw at Leicestershire
Ben Sanderson claimed his 500th wicket for Northamptonshire on the final day of the draw at Leicestershire
Ben Sanderson claimed his 500th wicket for Northants on the final day of the club's rain-ravaged Vitality County Championship clash with Leicestershire at Grace Road.

The veteran seamer had Ben Green caught at first slip to bring up the milestone, on his way to claiming figures of four for 92 in the Foxes' first innings.

Sanderson has now snared 366 wickets in first-class, 53 in List A matches and 81 in the T20 Blast, a remarkable effort by the 35-year-old who joined the County in 2015, having spent four years out of the professional game after being released by his home county Yorkshire.

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“I didn’t realise I was so close to the 500-wicket milestone," said Sanderson at the close of play.

"It is very special but I still feel I’ve got a few more seasons in the legs so hopefully there’ll be a few more yet.”

Sanderson's milestone was arguably the highlight of the final day at Grace Road as Northants completed a fourth draw in four matches.

With rain having wiped out more than half of the play on Saturday and all of it on Sunday, the game was always likely to head for a stalemate, with both sides opting to take the eight points on offer for the draw and fight it out for bonus points on Monday.

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The Foxes finished on 452 for eight in reply to Northants' 453 for seven, meaning both teams collected a healthy 15 points from the contest, to move up to first and second in the division two table respectively, with John Sadler's side two points behind Leicestershire.

The Foxes had started the day on 97 for two, and Sanderson said: "The only way we could see to get a positive result was to bowl them out twice, which is what we spoke about in the dressing room before we went out.

"That was the plan, but the pitch flattened out and the wind was blowing straight down the pitch, which certainly meant it was tough bowling from the pavilion end.

“Then the two lads Handscomb and Rehan played beautifully and we didn’t look like taking a wicket in that period."

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Aussie Peter Handscomb made 99 before being run out by Karun Nair, while Regan Ahmed hit 85.

There were also excellent knocks down the order from Tom Scriven (54no) and Scott Currie (44no) to deny Northants extra bowling points, and take the home side to maximum five-point batting haul.

There was a minor controversial moment in the day's play, when Northants were hit with a five-run penalty.

It was skipper Luke Procter who was the guilty party, as he struck Ahmed on the leg with the ball in attempting to run him out off his own bowling.

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Procter felt he was within his rights to take a throw at the stumps as the batter stepped out of his crease, but umpires Ben Debenham and Jack Shantry ruled that had thrown the ball 'in an inappropriate or dangerous manner' in contravention of Law 42 in the game’s rule book.

“The five-run penalty came as a bit of a shock," admitted Sanderson. "But the rules have changed in the batter’s favour.

"You are not supposed to throw the ball at the batter. But Rehan was well out of his crease and Proccy felt within his rights to take a shy. He was aiming for the stumps but you’ve got to be careful now."

Another big plus point from the day's play were the first wickets in Northants colours for fast bowler George Scrimshaw.

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He looked lively and struck twice in the first three overs of the day to dismiss Lewis Hill and Louis Kimber and reduce the home side to 142 for four, but Handscomb and Ahmed then settled the game down for the home side.

Scrimshaw finished with two for 85, but there was no joy for Aussie seamer Chris Tremain, who was wicketless in his 25 overs.

The overseas signing's four-match stint at the County Ground has now come to a close, and he returns to Australia having claimed just two wickets in 98 overs bowled.

Northants now have a break before they return to Championship action on May 10 when they host Gloucestershire over four days at Wantage Road.

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