The opening day of the new season was the type of day that has eluded Northamptonshire for many years as they steadily built a score in testing conditions against a good attack. Having been sent in, the host made 310 for 6, led by fifties from Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington.

Many times did a high class seam attack of Tim Murtagh, who took the first four wickets to fall, James Harris and England internationals Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones beat the bat, but Northants bided their time on a fairly slow wicket and grew several useful partnerships.

The most profitable was the 99 added by Wakely and Keogh that occupied 28.2 overs of the afternoon and set up Northants’ day. Wakely, Northants leading runscorer in 2018, struck seven fours in going past fifty in 102 balls en route to 76 and Keogh compiled a smart 46. The pair fell either side of tea – Wakely slashing Murtagh to first slip and Keogh driving Finn to second.

From a solid 182 for 4, Adam Rossington made a bright 67 – including pulling Roland-Jones over midwicket for six and flicking the same bowler to Max Holden on the fence, only for the fielder to stumble over the boundary.

Most of Rossington’s runs came after tea – a time when Northants had folded last season. But here, a sixth-wicket stand of 67 – ended when Rossington was bowled by the new ball delivered by a relieved Roland-Jones – ensured the initiative would not be surrendered.

Jason Holder was the other half of the stand. He walked out to cheers and a wonderful sense of excitement that a genuine star of the world game was gracing county cricket. Crunching his second ball through point for four only raised the level of anticipation. He took his new county to the close unbeaten on 36.

Northamptonshire 310 for 6 (Wakely 76, Rossington 67) | Full scorecard

Play resumes tomorrow at 11am, tickets are available online or at the gate.