Opener Will Young personified an obdurate batting performance by Northamptonshire on the first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Chelmsford.

The New Zealander followed up his match-saving 96 against Yorkshire last week with a composed 63 before Northamptonshire lost a clutch of late wickets to creep to 233-7 at the close.

Young’s 100-run partnership for the second wicket with Emilio Gay set the tone for a watchful day from Northamptonshire’s batsmen.

After Young was perhaps unfortunate to became the second of Sam Cook’s two wickets, the cudgels were taken up by Luke Procter, around whom Northamptonshire’s middle-order resistance was built. The left-hander will resume this morning on 60 from 164 balls.

Essex’s decision to put Northamptonshire in appeared to have been vindicated immediately when Ricardo Vasconcelos edged Cook’s third ball into the slip cordon.

Thereafter, the Essex bowlers toiled on a strip that did offer some assistance for the bowlers before they finally parted Gay and Young, who dug in for a workmanlike 38-over partnership that had few frills, few thrills and even fewer chances.

Cook kept the pair in check in a seven-over opening spell in which the seamer conceded just eight runs, the only dent coming when Gay pulled him with supreme nonchalance to the boundary.

The second-wicket stand had reached three-figures when it was finally broken. Snater got one to move away from the 22-year-old left-hander Gay and Sir Alastair Cook took the catch low down to his right at first slip.

Young’s three-hour, 146-ball stay ended soon after when he shouldered arms to a ball from Cook that nipped back sharply to strike him high above the knee roll, the Kiwi adjudged LBW.

Proctor and Rob Keogh put on 45 quietly and efficiently in 16 overs until the stroke of tea when Keogh prodded tentatively at a delivery from Matt Critchley that the bowler caught tumbling forward just above his boot-straps.

Paul Walter, called in to replace loanee Adam Rossington, denied permission to play against his parent club, claimed the scalp of Saif Zaib with his rarely seen medium-pacers, pinned lbw shuffling across the stumps.

Lewis McManus fell to the first of two smart catches by Simon Harmer who pounced in front of Cook the elder at first slip to snaffle the catch. His second, even better to see the back of Tom Taylor shortly before stumps.

Northamptonshire 233/7 (Young 63, Procter 60*)

Full scorecard.