O'Brien leads Northants fightback
Niall O’Brien’s chanceless unbeaten century dug Northamptonshire out of a hole on the opening day of the LV= County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Bristol.
The visitors had been reduced to 125 for five after winning the toss when O’Brien and Andrew Hall came together for a sixth-wicket stand of 182.
Captain Hall made 90 and O’Brien ended the day unbeaten on 123 in a total of 381 for six, achieved against an attack featuring 16-year-old Craig Miles, Gloucestershire’s fourth youngest first-class debutant.
Swindon-born Miles ended the day with 1-51 from 13 overs with his seamers, his maiden championship wicket coming when Alex Wakely drove to cover.
Northamptonshire looked to be in for a tough day when, with the total on 18, opener Stephen Peters edged a defensive push off Jon Lewis to Alex Gidman at first slip.
Without addition to the score, Gidman pouched another catch in the same position to dismiss Mal Loye off left-arm pace bowler David Payne.
Rob White was dropped on 25 by Kane Williamson in the slips off Ian Saxelby, but was leg before trying to work Will Gidman through the leg side in the first over after the interval.
Wakely, on 32, was caught low down by Chris Taylor before David Sales drove a return catch to Saxelby after making 10.
Gloucestershire were on top, but began to concede too many boundaries as O’Brien and Hall counter-attacked.
Hall hit eight fours in reaching his half-century off 75 deliveries, and the partnership continued to flourish in the final session as O’Brien went to a 68-ball fifty.
Hall looked set for a ton before he was caught at cover via a leading edge off Saxelby in the second over with the new ball. The South African had faced 128 balls and hit 12 fours.
O’Brien continued to construct an innings full of meaty drives and cuts, and reached three figures off 124 balls against the county younger brother Kevin will join later this week.
Nothing could spoil a memorable day for Miles, whose debut came at the age of 16 years 295 days. WWF Pullen holds the record as the youngest Gloucestershire player, at 15 years and 346 days, to appear in a first-class match, against Middlesex at Lord’s in 1882.