John Sadler praise for Emilio Gay as batter makes early return for Northants

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John Sadler praised the efforts of Emilio Gay to regain fitness ahead of schedule after the left-hander made a surprise return to the Northants team for their four-day clash with Nottinghamshire on Thursday.

The 23-year-old was included in the starting line-up for the LV= Insurance County Championship showdown at Wantage Road, stepping up after skipper Luke Procter and Hassan Azad were both ruled out through injury.

Gay opened the batting and looked in good form until he was caught behind off the bowling of Luke Fletcher for 15, but Sadler was just delighted to see the left-hander back at the crease.

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It is less just two months since Gay underwent an operation after suffering a stress fracture to his left knee-cap, and he hadn't been expected to return until at least next week.

Emilio Gay made his first appearance of the summer on ThursdayEmilio Gay made his first appearance of the summer on Thursday
Emilio Gay made his first appearance of the summer on Thursday

“I thought Emilio Gay looked great – he’s worked his socks off in the last six to eight weeks to get back and it was nice to see him out there," said the Northants head coach.

“In all honesty, he’s probably a week away from being match sharp, but Luke Procter and Hassan Azad have both gone down and there’s no risk medically.

“Ideally he’d have played a game with the second team and got a bit of time in the middle, but he’s somebody who works very hard, his basics will always stand up because they’re so ingrained and he’s got a strong mind.”

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Gay was one of two Northants batters to be dismissed on a truncated opening day, with stand-in skipper Sam Whiteman the other to fall as the County reached 86 for two at lunch.

Sadly, no further play was possible as nearly two hours of torrential rain flooded the outfield and the umpires called play off for the day shortly after 3pm.

Notts won the toss and opted to bowl, and Sadler said: “It was an intriguing session of cricket.

"The wicket offered a little bit – it was a bit slow, with the moisture around and it looked like hard work batting, so credit to our guys.

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“Of the two teams, I think we were certainly happier going in 86 for two at lunch. Our lads have put a good shift in."

Ricardo Vasconcelos will resume unbeaten on 37 and Saif Zaib on 22, with the pair having added 50 in those testing conditions, but the former was given some lives as three catches went down.

“Vasco played really nicely – he had to work very, very hard," said Sadler.

"He had a little bit of luck, which we needed.

"It’s a much nicer feeling being on this side of the fence than when we’re the ones putting catches down!"

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Notts assistant coach Kevin Shine said: “We controlled the rate really well, created chances and took some wickets. We were looking forward to the afternoon session but unfortunately the heavens opened.

“It was a good cricket wicket and we’ll see how it plays out. It happens (that catches go down). You’ve got to create chances – that’s the most important thing.

“Catches are never easy, it doesn’t matter how much you practise and these guys practise like you wouldn’t believe."

Play is due to resume on Friday morning at 11am.