Whiteley and Clare to the rescue
A maiden century from Ross Whiteley and a fifty from Jonathan Clare dragged Derbyshire out of trouble against Division Two leaders Northamptonshire on the first day of their LV= County Championship clash at Northampton.
Whiteley, a 22-year-old all-rounder playing in only his sixth championship match and with a previous highest score of only 33, starred in a seventh-wicket stand of 182 with Clare as Derbyshire closed on 321 for eight.
Whiteley struck 16 fours and a six in his 103 and he was ably supported by Clare, who contributed 82 before both were dismissed shortly before the close.
Northants' opening bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Jack Brooks gave the visitors a torrid time in the morning after the home side won the toss and soon reduced their opponents to 39 for five.
There was seam movement, swing and sharp bounce on display and the batsmen did not cope with it well as the first six wickets all falling to catches behind the wicket.
Vaas struck first in his second over as New Zealander Martin Guptill edged a rising ball to first slip Andrew Hall before, in the following over, Brooks produced a similar delivery to have Wayne Madsen caught at third slip by Rob White to make it eight for two.
Another swinging ball from Vaas saw Wes Durston caught by wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien to make it 21 for three and the Sri Lankan had his third victim when Greg Smith was caught at first slip after Brooks accounted for Chesney Hughes.
A sixth-wicket stand of 51 between skipper Luke Sutton and Whiteley sowed the first seeds of recovery for Derbyshire, but Sutton was caught by O’Brien off Lee Daggett for 26 to leave them 90 for six.
That allowed Clare to come to the crease and his partnership with Whiteley proved a stunning turning point.
Clare, scorer of a career-best 130 a week earlier, was aggressive from the start and looked set to overtake his less experienced partner, but Whiteley was growing in confidence after taking 106 balls to complete his first 50.
He produced a cover drive off James Middlebrook for a second four of the over to advance to three figures off 183 balls. The left-hander had given Northants only one chance, a tough leg-side catch for wicketkeeper O’Brien when he was on 33.
Clare was put down on 79 by Rob Newton at extra-cover but fell for 82 to a sliced drive to gully off Hall although Derbyshire had progressed to 272 by that point.
Whiteley’s innings finally ended on 103 in the third over with the second new ball, lbw to Vaas, who finished with 4-83.