Northamptonshire battled hard against a strong Australia A side but a crunching century for Matthew Wade saw the visitors win by six wickets.

The Steelbacks started excellently after new captain Josh Cobb chose to bat with Rob Newton returning to the top of the order for the first time in over a month. Richard Levi fell for 5 before Newton and Cobb put on an enterprising partnership of 92 for the second wicket. Newton looked in good touch despite his time out, regularly finding the rope before departing for 53. The highlight of his innings launching Ashton Agar over mid wicket in the left-arm spinners expensive opening spell.

Captain Cobb fell just short of a half-century in his first game leading Northamptonshire’s white-ball cricket, having taken a liking to the bowling of Mitch Marsh, Cobb drilled a drive to short cover off the bowling of Agar for 49. Australia A captain Travis Head rotated his bowlers through the middle overs, with the Steelbacks pushing on from the platform set by Newton and Cobb. Alex Wakely, Ricardo Vasconcelos and Charlie Thurston kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely, Wakely bringing up his half-century from 53 deliveries. He too was caught at cover off the bowling of Agar though, the Steelbacks now 209/5.

Thurston’s enterprising innings gave a glimpse of his power. After finding the boundary five times, he hauled out to deep mid wicket to bring Matt Coles to the crease with 5.4 overs left to finish the innings. The Essex loan signing had free license and with three overs left Sean Abbott, who had gone for just 19 runs from his eight overs to that point, was on the receiving end. Coles dispatching him for 15 runs in his penultimate over including a towering six onto the roof of the Frank’s Pavilion Coles guided the last ball of the innings over Josh Hazlewood at fly slip to end with 36 from 21 balls and set the Aussies 263 to win.

Matthew Wade signalled his intentions from the very first over of the reply, sending Sole to the boundary twice. The Australia A 50 came up in just the sixth over, Wade having scored 41 of them, before Azharullah got the breakthrough. D’Arcy Short departing in the seventh over for just 7, thanks to a smart catch from Newton at short fine leg. Wade was undeterred though, reaching 50 in 27 balls with eight fours and two sixes not long after. The total passed 100 in the 10th over and was approaching 150 before Tom Sole accepted a low return chance from Head, the captain caught and bowled for 30.

Matthew Wade’s blistering century came up in just 52 balls but he fell shortly after for 117, Sole taking his second wicket when a top edge fell safely to Blatherwick at square leg.

After missing the Royal London One Day Cup through injury, Graeme White looked in good form as he operated well in the middle overs. In his first First XI match since August 2019, the finger spinner finished with an economical 0-47 haven’t kept things under control from the Lynn Wilson End. After passing 50, Blatherwick dismissed Handscomb with just 15 required in an attacking second spell. The Australia A keeper caught mid off by Coles for a well made 64. Mitch Marsh and Kurtis Patterson saw the visiting side home, passing the total 6 down with 14 overs to spare.

Northamptionshire Steelbacks 262/9 (50) (Newton 53, Wakely 53)

Australia A 265/4 (36) (Sole 2/50, Azharullah 45).

Full scorecard.