Centuries from Alastair Cook and Jaik Mickleburgh put Essex into a very dominant position against Northamptonshire in a County Championship pision Two match, at the County Ground Northampton in England. The visitors ended day-one of the four-day match at 345 for the loss of just six wickets.
Essex’s captain James Foster chose to bat first after winning the toss, as the pitch was conducive for the batsmen. He expected his team to post a big first innings total, in order to pressurise the home team.
However, the start to the visitors’ innings wasn’t an ideal one. Opening batsman Billy Godleman was unable to make an impression, as he was sent back to the pavilion early in the match, scoring just four runs. His opening partner Cook was joined by the team’s first-drop Mickleburgh and the pair took the game away from Northamptonshire.
Both batsmen played sensible cricket and didn’t play a single reckless shot in the innings. They put together a massive partnership of 258 runs for the second wicket, guiding their team to 264.
The marathon partnership finally came to an end, as the Essex’s first-drop was dismissed after scoring a ton. He managed 112 runs in his innings off 205 balls with the help of 15 fours and one big six. His wicket brought England’s player Ravi Bopara at the crease, who constructed a half-century stand with Cook.
The left-handed opener was dismissed after playing a brilliant innings of 155 runs from 235 balls. He struck 20 fours in his superb knock and showed no mercy for the bowlers of the opposition.
Bopara looked good in the middle, but was unable to make the most of the start he got to his innings. He was dismissed after scoring 31 runs off 64 balls, hitting three fours and one six.
Two more wickets fell before the close of play, as Matt Walker and David Masters were sent back to the hut. They scored five and zero before getting out. Mark Pettini and the Essex captain were unbeaten on eight and five respectively when the final session of play was over.
Although the day belonged to the visitors, there was some fresh air for the Northamptonshire bowlers towards the end of the final session’s play. Essex lost four wickets for just 11 runs and the momentum shifted towards the hosts in the final few overs of the day.
Veteran Sri Lankan seamer Chaminda Vaas was the pick of the bowlers for his team, taking three wickets in the innings. He got good support from Jack Brooks, who sent two batsmen back to the pavilion.