Emilio Gay’s eye-catching century led a young Steelbacks side to a comfortable win over Bedfordshire at The County Ground.

Freddie Heldreich continued the strong start to his Steelbacks career, the left-arm wrist spinner picking up 4/53 alongside fellow left arm spinner Simon Kerrigan who finished with 3/19 from 8 overs as Bedfordshire were bowled out for 251.

Having been put in to bat by the visitors, Ben Curran and Emilio Gay were quick out of the blocks. The opening partnership raced to 50 by the end of the 7th over, Gay leading the way with three boundaries off Matt Coles’ second over.

The Steelbacks were 69 without loss by the end of the powerplay, but lost Curran to a low return catch by Brett shortly after. Northamptonshire’s opening four partnerships all passed 50 as Gay found partners in Thurston and Zaib before Taylor and Zaib took the total to 249/4.

Gay looked in good touch from the get go, racing to 50 in 43 balls and not letting up as he raised his century in 93 deliveries. The opener tucked in to anything loose on both sides of the wicket, with crisp timing on show for each of his 13 boundaries.

Saif Zaib took a different approach, working gaps through the middle overs to reach 61 off 65 deliveries before he was the Steelbacks’ third run-out of the innings. Bedfordshire curtailed the scoring rate after Zaib departed, and despite Tom Taylor sending Chris Green onto the Lynn Wilson roof, batsmen found boundaries hard to come by. A pair of powerful straight drives from Captain Graeme White in the final over lifted the Steelbacks to 308/9 at the end of their 50 overs.

Bedfordshire made a promising start to their reply, finishing the Powerplay without loss and with 47 on the board. Simon Kerrigan intervened though, claiming a wicket in three consecutive overs as he had Jefferies smartly stumped by Gouldstone, bowled Berrill and had Green well caught by a diving Thurston at short cover.

Bedfordshire steadied but the required rate continued to grow as Kettleborough and Thurstance combined for a partnership of 97 in 106 deliveries. Both batsmen passed fifty before the latter miscued an attempted pull off Jack White which landed in the hands of Taylor at cover.

This prompted a flurry of wickets as Coles chopped Heldreich onto his stumps before the left-armer picked up Kettleborough and Homyoon in the same over shortly after. He picked up his fourth with a clever wide delivery to beat an advancing Taylor, Gouldstone with his second stumping of the day.

A late resurgence from Fuller and Warren lifted Bedfordshire to 250 but no further as Taylor picked up the final two wickets to hand Northamptonshire a 57 run victory.