Rhodes impresses on debut in Day One

DAY 1 | Leicestershire CCC 276 for eight v Northamptonshire CCC

SCORECARD | Available from Cricinfo HERE

REACTION | To follow

REPORT | Hassan Azad surpassed 1,000 Specsavers County Championship runs for the season as he anchored Leicestershire CCC’s first innings superbly for much of the day against Northamptonshire CCC.

George Rhodes came in for a debut to remember after posting 51no, and Mark Cosgrove also recorded a half-century, as County posted 276 for eight on the opening day.

County got back into red ball action following the lengthy interval for the Vitality Blast, with the first of their last three red ball fixtures at the Fischer County Ground.

Northamptonshire CCC were the visitors who were sitting inside the promotion places, occupying the third and final spot as the clubs headed into round 14 of 16 first-class fixtures.

County made three changes to their last game at Durham CCC. Callum Parkinson came back in, and both Alex Evans - who has impressed in the Second XI all year - and Rhodes, fresh from his move from Worcestershire CCC, came in for their Leicestershire CCC debuts.

The visitors also had two new faces with Gareth Berg coming in and Doug Bracewell making his 'second debut'.

Leicestershire CCC got off to a slow start with captain Paul Horton (0) finding Alex Wakely at first slip off his second ball from the bowling of Brett Hutton.

Azad and Colin Ackermann then began to find their feet at the crease, both hitting Ben Sanderson for their first fours of the contest, both with thick outside edges.

No.3 Ackermann lasted just under 45 minutes before cutting Berg’s delivery to Newton at backward point for 16.

Meanwhile, Azad was standing firm at the crease as he earned his second boundary of the day after Cosgrove emerged from the pavilion.

Just before the lunch interval, Azad reached yet another milestone as with his 39th run in the day, his seventh four, he reached 1,000 Specsavers County Championship runs for the season.

Moments later, the interval came with Leicestershire sitting on 91 for two, Azad 40no and Cosgrove 27no.

The second session of the day came and both Azad and Cosgrove were soon to hit their half-centuries.

Azad’s came via a single down to third man from 105 balls (8x4), while Cosgrove’s half-century, from 73 balls, came from his ninth boundary after playing Bracewell through the leg-side.

The partnership was finally broken at 122 from the barrage of deliveries from the Northamptonshire CCC seam attack as Cosgrove was bowled by Sanderson for 65.

Replacing Cosgrove was County’s 484th player in the Specsavers County Championship, Rhodes, who got off to a flyer after hitting Sanderson for four from his fifth ball faced.

The partnership of Rhodes and Azad produced 34 runs before Azad (86) was the next wicket to fall for County after being bowled by Procter, who then immediately pinned Neil Dexter in front.

Procter certainly went for the hat-trick as his delivery hit the pad of Harry Swindells, and despite it comfortably travelling down leg-side, the whole Northamptonshire field went up for an appeal.

The first batting point of the day was brought up by Harry Swindells, after pushing Richard Keogh out to the leg side for a single.

County's young wicket-keeper then went on to make his first boundary of the day, playing Bracewell through mid-wicket with a turn of the wrists, and went on to quickly add his second of the over and the game.

Tea came with County recovering from Procter’s two quick wickets with Rhodes 21no, Swindells 12no and Leicestershire at 210 for five.

Rhodes and Swindells came back out to open the final session of the day and both began to grow into the game, scoring whenever the opportunity presented itself.

The partnership of Rhodes and Swindells fell nine runs short of the 50-run mark as Swindells was pinned lbw by Berg for 17.

Parkinson came out to join Rhodes at the crease and both began building a partnership to see the day out, playing low risk shots with the occasional boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

However, Parkinson was the next wicket to fall after being trapped in front by Hutton for 16.

Rhodes , who played a patient, composed innings, claimed the third half-century for the Foxes of the day after pushing the delivery down to third man for a single. The fifty came from 147 balls including eight fours.

The next ball saw Chris Wright caught by Curran off Procter for 10. Will Davis subsequently walked out to the crease to see off the remaining eight balls of the day.

Davis successfully saw out the remaining eight balls of the day, alongside Rhodes as Leicestershire ended the day on 276 for eight, with Rhodes 51no and Davis 0no.

TEAM | Horton (capt), Ackermann, Azad, Cosgrove, Davis, Dexter, A Evans, Parkinson, Rhodes, Swindells (wk), Wright.

Northamptonshire CCC | Rossington (capt & wk), Curran, Newton, Wakely, Keogh, Levi, Procter, Berg, Bracewell, Hutton, Sanderson.

IMAGES | Thanks to John Mallett of Outside Off for providing the images throughout the game.