Ricardo Vasconcelos hit a magnificent unbeaten 166, his ninth first-class century and his first in two years, as he indulged his liking for Glamorgan’s bowlers on day two of this Vitality County Championship match at Wantage Road.

He shared a partnership of 191 in 52 overs with his captain Luke Procter (65) and a stand of 103 with Karun Nair (55), who passed 7,000 career first-class runs in the process as Northamptonshire closed on 314 for two in reply to Glamorgan’s 271, a lead of 43 runs.

Playing his first game for the Steelbacks this season since recovering from injury, Vasconcelos put a lacklustre 2023 behind him to register his first century since scoring 156 at Warwickshire in May 2022. It was also his highest score since the 79 he made against Surrey in September that year, although he did make 106 against Glamorgan in the One Day Cup last season.

He has previously posted two Championship scores in the 180s against Glamorgan in 2019 and 2021.

If Vasconcelos looked rusty early on as a couple of false shots dropped short of fielders, he grew in fluency and confidence, timing the ball beautifully and taking the attack to Glamorgan with some crisp hitting which brought him 23 boundaries off 246 deliveries.

Earlier Mason Crane hit 61 (115 balls), his maiden first-class half-century, to frustrate Northamptonshire’s bowlers and earn Glamorgan a precious batting bonus point. Crane carved out a spirited last wicket partnership of 35 with Mir Hamza after a nineteenth career five-wicket haul from Ben Sanderson threatened to bring a swift conclusion to Glamorgan’s innings.

Glamorgan had resumed their innings on 203 for seven. Colin Ingram, 69 overnight, moved onto 82 and was within sight of a second century of the season when he fell to a stunning one-handed diving catch by Karun Nair at first slip. Sanderson then claimed his fifth wicket of the innings when he had Brad Wheal caught behind without scoring.

Crane proved a thorn in Northamptonshire’s side as he eclipsed his previous highest score of 29. He was proactive, manufacturing shots, including a cheeky late dab down to third and an upper cut over the keeper. Strong on the pull, he struck one short ball from Chris Tremain for six before dispatching a Raphy Weatherall delivery over mid-on to reach 50 and take Glamorgan past 250. He finally departed after fending a short one from Procter to slip.

For Northamptonshire, Emilio Gay (15) looked fluent after scoring 261 against Middlesex last weekend, taking two fours off James Harris’ first over before the Welshman trapped him lbw.

Even without as much assistance for the bowlers compared to the opening day, Hamza kept things tight, showing admirable control and conceded just 13 runs in his first nine overs either side of lunch. He got the ball to swing in the evening session and deserved some rewards for his efforts.

Vasconcelos edged him just short of first slip on 10 and top edged an attempted hook against Wheal which landed between two advancing fielders on 13.

But he started to find his groove, slapping Harris away through point to bring up Northamptonshire’s 50, before taking boundaries off the bowler’s next over. He drove fluently and played off his legs throughout his innings, while an early highlight was a perfectly controlled upper cut through point for four off Dan Douthwaite. He brought up Northamptonshire’s 100 and his own half-century off 95 balls by driving Zain ul Hassan down the ground and then played an elegant front foot punch off Hamza.

Vasconcelos continued the offensive after tea. He twice clubbed Crane high over long-on to the boundary and dabbed Wheal down to third before running a single to bring up his century off 153 balls.

Procter was happy to fly under the radar while Vasconcelos motored along at the other end. Strong off his legs, he clipped three balls away to the ropes early in his innings before pulling Wheal through midwicket after tea as he advanced to his half-century. His downfall came after 158 balls when he attempted to sweep Crane and picked out Billy Root at backward square who took a juggling catch.

Nair played some graceful shots, driving and cutting sweetly and hitting five boundaries as Northamptonshire duly moved past 300 in the 81st over.