Ben Duckett played his way into Northamptonshire history with 282 not out on the second day against Sussex at Wantage Road. He batted through the only two sessions possible as the County made 481 for 7 before bad light and drizzle prevented any play after tea.
Duckett’s 367-ball innings became the eighth-highest for Northants in first-class cricket as he overtook some of the greats of Wantage Road – players of the calibre of Wayne Larkins, Allan Lamb and Dennis Brookes.
He worked around an ailing Sussex attack on a placid pitch but still found room for the odd gem: sweetly cover-driving Steve Magoffin in his early-morning burst and lifting Danny Briggs for his second six over long-off. Later in the day, he added deft paddle sweeps and was happy to offer his lower-order partners the strike – they will hope to survive long enough on day three to allow Duckett to reach 300.
When he raised his maiden first-class double-ton 10 overs into the morning session, he became the first double-centurion for Northants since David Sales against Gloucestershire at Wantage Road in 2013. And soon overtook the highest score by a Northants batsman against Sussex, beating the 204 made by Rob Bailey in 1990, also in Northampton.
But he should have gone in just the second over of the day. Driving loosely outside off stump straight to cover he was badly put down by Lewis Hatchett, the 12th man. It was the second catch to go down off Ajmal Shahzad – a third followed when Duckett, on 237, slapped straight to Ed Joyce at short cover-point, who shelled the chance.
Sussex at least had George Garton to take something positive from the day. The 18-year-old left-armer, on his Championship debut, bowled with decent pace and took three afternoon wickets: he bowled Richard Levi and Adam Rossington in consecutive overs before having Rory Kleinveldt caught behind.
It briefly threatened to disrupt Northamptonshire’s progress but despite missing out on a fifth batting bonus point by four runs, Duckett found enough partners to move the total into commanding territory. David Murphy looked very comfortable before hooking to Ross Taylor at deep square leg – finally handing the deserving Shahzad a wicket. Josh Cobb fell playing the same shot in the morning session – but he gloved Ollie Robinson to wicketkeeper Ben Brown.
Murphy enjoyed his 64 run stand with Duckett: “He’s been in such good touch these past two days. He had to battle through a little bit this morning but once he got past 200 he went from strength to strength. Some of the shots he’s been playing and the way he’s controlled the spinners have been so good. And the way he’s punished anything remotely off line has been fantastic. It’s one of the best innings I’ve seen.”