Rob Keogh led the run glut for Northamptonshire on Day One of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Warwickshire at Wantage Road.
The county’s longest serving player struck 130 with 20 fours in a three and three quarter hour stay of elegant stroke play as the hosts reached 420 for six. The right-hander shared a fifth-wicket stand of 161 with Josh Cobb (88) – all this after Emilio Gay had caressed his way to 70 in the morning session.
For much of the day the defending champions’ bowling could be classed as wayward, skipper Will Rhodes the honourable exception with two for 44 from 20 frugal overs.
Ricardo Vasconcelos, in his first game back from injury, didn’t cash in on his decision to bat first after winning the toss, making only five before driving and edging at one from Henry Brookes to be caught behind.
South African international, Ryan Rickleton, parachuted in for two championship games to cover for Will Young, away on Test duty with New Zealand, was almost run out for nought before also falling cheaply to a brilliant left-handed catch by wicketkeeper Michael Burgess.
Thereafter, the morning was dominated by Gay’s stylish innings. The young left-hander was beautifully still at the crease, compact in defence, playing the ball right in front of his eyes. From that base, Gay unfurled some sumptuous off and cover drives in reaching 50 from 62 balls. However, with a century in the offing, lunch beckoning and having just pulled Nathan McAndrew for successive fours, the former Bedford School scholar tried the shot a third time to a straighter bumper and only succeeded in finding the safe hands of Matt Lamb at fine-leg. The way the youngster dragged himself off suggested he knew he’d missed an opportunity.
When Luke Proctor was given out lbw to the nagging accuracy of Bears’ skipper Will Rhodes, the hosts were 139-4. However, this brought together Keogh and Cobb, who feasted on some friendly offerings from the visitors for much of the afternoon.
The two batters provided a great contrast of styles Keogh all timing and elegance as he peppered the mid-off and cover boundaries in racing to 50 at quicker than a run a ball with 11 fours. Cobb matched Keogh’s boundary count but took 25 balls more, mixing defence with brutal ball striking.
Once past 50 Cobb cut loose in what appeared to be a race to a hundred between the pair. However, on 88 the county’s one-day skipper pulled a rare long-hop from Rhodes which looked to be going for six until Craig Miles took a superb catch falling backwards just inside the rope at deep square.
Keogh though found another batting ally in Lewis McManus and pushed on to complete a chanceless hundred soon after tea courtesy of an 18th four.
The hosts had reached 372-5 by the time the second new ball was due and Oliver Hannon-Dalby made the shiny cherry count, ending Keogh’s vigil with one which bounced on him and took the edge, Dom Sibley taking the catch at slip.
It was though their only reward as McManus became the fourth player to pass 50 shortly before the close.
Northamptonshire 420/6 (Keogh 130, Cobb 88)