Sales blows hot

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The Independent Online
Northants 328 and 446-3 dec

Worcs 350-7 dec and 388-7 Match drawn

David Sales took only five balls yesterday to guarantee himself a place in cricket history when, with a four to the mid-wicket boundary, he became the first English player to make a double hundred on a Championship debut.

Sales, who already has the record for the youngest person to score 50 in the Sunday League when only 16, and Northamptonshire team-mate Kevin Curran batted for just four overs yesterday morning before the declaration. It left the youngster on 210 not out, including 28 fours and three sixes.

The home side were set a target of 425 to win and on a benign pitch even such a daunting total was within their grasp. Yet if young Sales had shown the strip to be a batsman's paradise, the Worcestershire openers conspired to show it might not necessarily be so easy. In a five-ball spell, David Capel sent back Phil Weston and Matthew Church and, at 12 for two, the home side were in trouble.

Enter Tom Moody, a century maker in the first innings and a player not about to be eclipsed by a teenager. He quickly hit the seven runs needed for his own landmark of a 1,000 runs for the season, but didn't stop there. In a display of great stroke-making, he made the target a distinct possibility. A massive straight six brought up his 149. A single the following ball and he had the 150. His dismissal on 169, when clean bowled by Paul Taylor, was a serious blow to his side's chances.

Worse was to come. After a slow start, Tim Curtis - sharing in a 269 partnership with Moody - reached his century before being caught at deep square-leg off Taylor. His was the first of three wickets to fall in successive balls that gave the visitors a glimmer of victory. However, Steven Rhodes and Stuart Lampitt put on 65 runs to ensure the spoils would be shared before Lampitt went for 28. Rhodes notched up an unbeaten half-century.

Despite several good performances, Sales shined brightest. John Emburey, the Northamptonshire coach, hopes to persuade the powers that be that Sales would be better served playing Championship cricket than departing next week for a six-week spell with the England Under-19s. He said: "This was a tremendous performance and Championship cricket is more beneficial to his future. He has a sound defence, but it is his attacking shots that make people sit up and look at him."