Centuries for Peters and Sales

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Monty Panesar experienced a hard day of toil as he began the next chapter of his career with Essex.

The England left-arm spinner made his debut for his new team against his former county Northamptonshire in their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Colchester.

Panesar sent down 34 overs for the reward of one wicket, that of Alex Wakely, at a cost of 72 runs.

Northamptonshire, largely thanks to centuries from Stephen Peters and David Sales, reached the close of the first day's play on 343 for five having won the toss in ideal batting conditions.

Even though David Masters claimed an early success by finding a way through the defence of James Middlebrook with the total on 27, it soon became clear bowlers would suffer a difficult day.

Only very rarely did the ball get past the bat or find the edge as Sales and Peters, who spent six seasons with Essex early in his career, dominated the bowlers.

A fast outfield meant regular boundaries came easily, Sales pulling with authority as he reached his half-century from 63 balls with the help of 11 fours.

Peters' fifty contained six fours but the captain and opener found the gaps often enough to reach the landmark just as quickly.

Sales was first to reach three figures from the 133rd ball he received, an effort containing 17 fours and a straight driven six against Panesar.

Peters followed him to his hundred with the aid of 10 boundaries but, in the same over, he was bowled by Masters trying to guide the ball in the direction of third man.

The partnership with Sales was worth 205 in 54 overs. Essex skipper James Foster continually juggled his attack, Panesar twice switching ends during four spells before tea. During that time, he proved economical, his 23 overs costing 52 runs and including six maidens.

Sales' fine innings came to an end when he was bowled by Graham Napier for 131, his contribution spanning 201 balls and containing 21 fours in addition to a six.

Wakely brought up the 300 with a straight-driven six at the expense of off-spinner Greg Smith but, soon afterwards, he lost Ben Duckett to the second new ball.

The 18-year-old batsman pushed forward against Reece Topley to be caught in the cordon by Gautam Gambhir, another Essex debutant.

Panesar had something to brighten his day when, in the first over of a fifth spell and 30th in total, he removed Wakely with the help of Ravi Bopara at short extra cover when the batsman was within one run of a half-century.

Centuries for Peters and Sales www.northantscricket.com