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STUMPS & HIGHLIGHTS: Wickets for Briggs and Magoffin as Duckett stars for Northants


Sussex were thwarted by Ben Duckett as Northamptonshire had the better of the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship season at Wantage Road, making 296 for 2 having been asked to bat first.

He signed off 2015 with a century at The Oval and picked up where he left off with a 139-ball century. His 178 not out was a first-class best. It allowed Northamptonshire to enjoy a good opening to the new season against Sussex, who are missing captain Luke Wright and Chris Nash in this match through injury.

There were moments of fortune for Duckett - two wild drives flew over the slips before his raised a half-century in 60 balls, and an under-edged cut brought him within touching distance of century, which he reached with an ease through extra-cover.

He also swept the spinners well. Two of them operated in tandem for periods - a most unexpected sight for an April Championship match but such was the unresponsive nature of the pitch that stand-in Sussex captain Ben Brown had little choice but to use Danny Briggs and Luke Wells for 31 of the day’s 82 overs.

Sussex's best period of sustained pressure was shortly after lunch where 15 runs came in 10 overs and Steve Magoffin slid a delivery into Jake Libby to win an lbw.

Duckett and Libby shared an opening stand of 130 but Northants captain Alex Wakely arrived to build another big stand. He and Duckett weathered the period of Sussex pressure to add 123 for the second wicket.

Wakely opened his campaign with a smart half-century and some pleasant straight driving. But he fell to a Briggs delivery to be lbw for 51, giving the spinner his first Championship wicket for Sussex.

Mark Davis, Sussex's Head Coach, said: “It was a tough day but we stuck to our task very well. Our fielding was outstanding, we fielded with energy and skill. It wasn’t an obvious bowl first - we thought we’d look at the wicket, we saw the pitch was slightly damp and thought the best time to take wickets was first thing. It’s a good pitch and they played really well.”

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