Batting star Kerrigan admits Northants 'got away with a draw' as lower order deny dominant Durham
“Getting away with a draw is the main thing to take from it."
Batting hero Simon Kerrigan was in no mood to celebrate the fact Northants escaped from their LV= Insurance County Championship draw with Durham with a share of the spoils.
Northants looked to be heading for a second defeat in the Division Two play-offs when an all too familiar top order batting collapse saw them slide to 111 for six with more than half a day's play to go, and 106 needed just to make the visitors bat again.
Enter James Sales to bat superbly for a maiden first-class half-century, and once the in-form Luke Procter was dismissed for 44 from 105 balls, he was joined in a fantastic rearguard action by Kerrigan.
Sales was eventually out for 53 from 120 balls, but Kerrigan took on the stonewall baton and guided Northants to the draw with a stubborn 28 not out from 135 balls, with valuable knocks from last two Ben Sanderson (17 from 39 balls) and Jack White (3no from 15)
Their efforts at least ensured that David Ripley's final home game in charge as head coach didn't end in defeat, but Kerrigan admitted the team was disappointed with their performance in their final County Ground outing of 2021.
“Getting away with a draw is the main thing to take from it," said the former Lancashire man.
"We are pretty disappointed with the three days and the majority of the day with the performance we put in.
“It was a really good wicket and being under cover all day on Tuesday (day three was rained off) and with the floodlights on in the morning, it is always going to be hard with someone like Chris Rushworth steaming in.
“The Durham lads bowled really well and asked lots of questions and I’m really pleased to have seen it home in the end.
“We came in this morning and the aim was to bat out the draw so we are pleased with that but also reflecting there are areas we can improve.”
One player who will look back on the game with some pride is Sales.
On top of his 53 yesterday, he also hit an equally important 38 not out in Northants' below-par first innings total of 183, again rescuing the team from a precarious 107 for six, and Kerrigan was impressed.
“In the first innings James was complaining about his bat not being very good, but today he hit the middle every time," he said.
"I’m pleased for him to get his first fifty and hopefully it is the first of many."
Although there was relief in the Northants camp, it was a very different story in the Durham dressing room who were left to rue the rained off day three that ultimately cost them victory in a match they dominated.
“It is really frustrating from our point of view," said Durham skipper Scott Borthwick.
"When we came off at tea we only needed the three wickets and we thought once we had broken the Sales and Kerrigan partnership we might go for the last two but fair play to the Northamptonshire batters.
“Kerrigan is a decent No.9 and showed he is capable of batting out 135 balls – which I didn’t realise was that many!
“We grafted hard. The seamers were excellent and they managed to get the ball swinging at times on a good pitch.
“We just said to the lads there that this is day three and the fact we are disappointed that we haven’t won in three days is a sign of how far we have come this season. We knew it would be tough but we expected to win.
“I’ve just sat there with the coach and thought we could have done this or that but it is one of those where it is so tight you think of those things.”
Northants now have a weekend off before starting their final Championship clash of the season at Essex next Tuesday.
The County go into that game in fourth place in Division Two, with Essex top of the pile.