Northants coach David Ripley admits his players face an uphill battle to get back into the match after a dramatic first day of their Specsavers County Championsip Division Two clash at Nottinghamshire.
A total of 20 wickets fell on day one on at Trent Bridge as top took on third place in the table on Monday, with Northants bowling out the home side for 213, before being shot out themselves for just 141.
The fact the County reached that total was mainly down to a rearguard action from Josh Cobb, who hit 46 not out, and Richard Gleeson (25) with the pair rescuing their team from a precarious 84 for eight.
Notts then eased to 19 without loss in their second innings, to lead by 91 runs, and it means Northants will need to make early inroads in day two on Tuesday if they are to stay in the game.
“When we were looking at the wicket on Monday morning, I wouldn’t have envisaged that that would be the outcome of the day,” said Ripley.
“It looked a goodish pitch with a little tinge of green and that made us wonder as to whether to bowl or bat.
“The overhead conditions and the sun meant that both sides thought that batting would be the safest option.
“There was some good seam bowling and some indifferent batting, so the game has rolled on quickly.
“I thought we bowled well and didn’t get the rewards we deserved in the first hour; we went past the bat quite a bit.
“Riki Wessels and his partnerships towards the end hurt us a little bit and now we are going to have to fight hard to get ourselves back in the game.”
Former Northants man Wessels top-scored with 69, and steered the tail well, with Notts recovering from 167 for seven to post what now looks a good total.
For Northants, Mohammed Azharullah was the pick of the bowlers, claiming five for 63 from 14 overs, while there was also a four-wicket haul for Gleeson, who claimed four for 38 from 9.1 overs.
Steven Mullaney at the top of the order made 58 for Notts.
The County were without Ben Duckett in their reply, with the left-hander missing out due to an injured hand, and that meant they openend up with Rob Newton and David Murphy, playing his first Championship match of the season.
The pair put on 28 for the first wicket before England pace man Jake Ball dismissed Newton, and from there things fell apart pretty quickly as Northants lost eight wickets for just 56 runs, with Alex Wakely, Richard Levi, Rob Keogh and Adam Rossington mustering just 16 runs between them.
The standout performer for Northants wasa Cobb. whose unbeaten 46 came off 85 deliveries, and included two sixes and four boundaries.
The main men with the ball for Notts were Brett Hutton and Luke Wood, who both claimed three wickets, while Ball and Mullaney claimed two apiece.
Hutton was delighted with how the day eventually panned out for his side, and said: “There was a lot happening and there were quite a lot of runs scored as well as all the wickets but, most importantly, we are in a strong position and hopefully can capitalise on that.
“We knew they were a good bowling attack and that the pitch would probably do a little bit early on but it had a little bit more pace than we expected but we assessed it quite quickly.
“I thought Mull (Steven Mullaney) was outstanding through the tricky new ball period and then Riki showed his experience to bat through with the tail and get us past 200, every run was vital.
“Northants batted positively, so it was nice for us to get wickets at regular intervals and we are happy with how it went.”