Batty beats pain for career-best figures

Northampton 177 Worcestershire 119-1

Mindful of where their strengths lie, Northamptonshire tend to prepare pitches to encourage spin but the game plan exploded in their faces after they decided to bat first here yesterday.

Mindful of where their strengths lie, Northamptonshire tend to prepare pitches to encourage spin but the game plan exploded in their faces after they decided to bat first here yesterday.

The off-spin combination of Jason Brown and Graeme Swann may yet have some say in shaping this contest but the opening day belonged squarely to Worcestershire's matching pair of Gareth Batty and Shaftab Khalid.

The latter duo's off breaks accounted for nine wickets, Batty with career-best figures of 7-52, despite suffering nerve pain in his spinning finger.

It is unusual for slow bowlers to dominate an opening day as they did, but the surface could hardly be described as explosive. Batty turned some deliveries sharply but it was able rather than assisted bowling and Northamptonshire's batting was not blameless. Indeed, given that Worcestershire then reached 119 in reply for the loss of only Stephen Moore, the pitch can be absolved.

It started well enough for the home side, openers Tim Roberts and Tom Huggins sharing a solid partnership of 58. But Batty, introduced after 38 minutes, struck in his third over, bowling Roberts on the back foot, and thereafter it was largely downhill.

Martin van Jaarsfeld was caught off bat and pad and Huggins, having completed a half-century containing five fours and two sixes, was lured down the track and stumped. David Sales fell first ball and although Swann survived Batty's hat-trick attempt it was not long before an ill-judged clip had him caught at mid-wicket.

Only Usman Afzaal stayed long amid the carnage but he was tempted into a fatal hook by Matt Mason, the only successful seamer.

Success for Brown in his third over, when Moore popped up a catch at short leg, raised expectations of similar damage being inflicted on the visitors but by the close Stephen Peters was unbeaten on 63 and as Graeme Hick was still with him, Worcestershire expect to build a decent lead today.

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