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County Championship: Emilio Gay’s 144 gives Northants edge at Lancashire

Emilio Gay fell one short of his first-class career best score of 145
LV= County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford (day one)
Northants 302-5: Gay 144; Balderson 3-29
Lancashire: Yet to bat
Lancashire 1 pt, Northants 2 pts
Match scorecard

Emilio Gay hit his first century of the summer as Division One’s bottom side Northamptonshire enjoyed their strongest day of the season against Lancashire at Old Trafford.

Opener Gay made 144 – one shy of his career best – as Northants produced their highest first-innings score this season and closed on 302-5.

After deciding to bat, they were in trouble at 59-3 before captain Luke Procter (75) joined Gay to put on 207 for the fourth wicket.

The 23-year-old’s 250-ball knock was ended late on by George Balderson, who was the pick of the Lancashire attack with three wickets.

Little more than 36 hours since the final day of the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia was abandoned in Manchester, the same pitch was used for this game.

It was little surprise that Northants opted to bat first on the used surface, although Balderson removed Ricardo Vasconcelos and Justin Broad cheaply with the first balls of his first and second overs to have the visitors 29-2.

Sam Whiteman was positive for 20, until he had a rush of blood to left-arm spinner Jack Morley and was stumped.

At 59-3 they were in trouble but Procter, who was struck a painful blow by Will Williams when he first came to the crease, and Gay dug in to reach lunch.

They excelled after the break, upping the run-rate as they added 117 runs in the middle session.

Gay reached his first century since scoring 145 against Surrey last September, this coming off 191 balls, as he unfurled some classy strokes to hit 14 boundaries along with patience and sound defence.

But after the spinners bowled 42 overs, along with a few overs of part-time spin from Tom Bailey, it was the new ball that finally did the trick for the Red Rose.

Procter was lbw to Williams to end his 212-ball innings and their club-record fourth-wicket partnership against Lancashire.

Gay looked set for a career best only to play a loose drive at Balderson, but his departure could not spoil Northants’ day.

With an average first innings score of only 174, this was their highest effort first up in 2023 and their two bonus points trebled their entire season’s batting points from one to three.

While with sunshine and fluffy clouds all day, there was no hint of the rain at Old Trafford that had scuppered England’s Ashes hopes over the weekend.

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