Northants coach Sadler says losing toss was key as Kent dominate rain-hit day

Ricardo Vasconcelos top-scored for Northants on a difficult day at CanterburyRicardo Vasconcelos top-scored for Northants on a difficult day at Canterbury
Ricardo Vasconcelos top-scored for Northants on a difficult day at Canterbury
Northants endured a torrid first day of the 2023 season as they were reduced to 89 for seven on a rain-affected opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash against Kent at Canterbury.

Grant Stewart took three for six and Michael Hogan two for 36 as the Spitfires exploited damp and dark conditions to leave the visitors deep in the mire at the end of a truncated evening session.

Ricardo Vasconcelos was Northants’ top scorer with 39, but he fell in the only over bowled after tea before play was abandoned due to bad light.

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Heavy overnight rain at the St. Lawrence wiped out the morning session, but the home side were clearly the happier after winning the toss and rattling through the Northants top order during the 26 overs that were possible.

When play finally got underway at 2.15pm the visitors initially scored rapidly.

Vasconcelos drove the first ball of the day, from Matt Quinn, for four and they cantered to 26 without loss, until Hogan trapped Hassan Azad lbw for seven in the sixth over and in the next over Quinn sent Sam Whiteman’s middle stump flying for just a single.

It was hardly the Northants debuts that Azad and Whiteman would have dreamed of.

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Following their dismissals, both of Kent’s first-change bowlers then took wickets with their first deliveries.

Joey Evison struck with the first ball of the 12th over, getting skipper Luke Procter caught by Ben Compton at square leg for eight and Stewart then had Rob Keogh caught behind for three at the start of the 16th.

Procter will be angry to have lost his wicket to such a loose shot.

Stewart subsequently took a superb return catch to dismiss Josh Cobb for seven, clinging on to a violent drive at ankle height, before he had Lewis McManus caught behind for five.

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Tea was originally scheduled for 4.10pm but with light deteriorating the session was curtailed three minutes early.

Vasconcelos fell lbw to Hogan to the fourth ball after an extended interval, leaving James Sales and Gareth Berg as the not out batters on five and three respectively when play was abandoned for the day.

Northants head coach John Sadler felt losing the toss was key to how the game went.

"It was a shame to call that toss wrong this morning to be honest,” he said.

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"But these things happen sometimes and sometimes you’ve got to go in when conditions aren’t in your favour. We tried our best but that’s the way it goes.

“I’m pretty cool with the shot selection. We just nicked a couple and missed a couple of straight ones.

"It was swinging and it was nipping a little bit.

"The lights were on, it was grey, it was overcast and they were tough conditions, so we’ll come back tomorrow and start again.”

Kent bowler Stewart said: “It’s always pleasing, but the job’s not done yet.

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"It’s a pretty bowler friendly wicket and probably they would have looked to bowl first if they’d won the toss.

"You try to be consistent and let that wicket help you out a bit. I think all five of us that bowled today did that and we were well supported in the field.

“It’s possible there’s something in in for the batters.

"They’ve got a fairly good bowling attack too so it’ll be tough work, but you just play the ball on its merit, you don’t want to have any preconceptions.

"And I think the style of play that a lot of our batters have they’ll look to put pressure on. It’ll be exciting to see how it goes tomorrow.”