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COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: Middlesex toil as Northants move to 235-4 at tea after unbeaten century from Ricardo Vasconcelos

PUBLISHED: 16:02 19 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:10 19 August 2018

Middlesex played Northants at Wantage Road in the County Championship. CREDIT @laythy29

Middlesex played Northants at Wantage Road in the County Championship. CREDIT @laythy29

Archant

Middlesex toiled in the afternoon session on day one of their County Championship match against Northants after Ricardo Vasconcelos hit an unbeaten century at Wantage Road.

The 20-year-old Johannesburg-born Portuguese passport holder reached three figures off 161 balls with 14 fours as he steered the home side to their first batting bonus point and only their tenth this summer.

Northants reached 232-4 at tea, with the precocious former South African U19 left-handed batsman unbeaten on 110 after his first ton for the club, with partner – and former Seaxe man – Steven Crook on 11.

Fellow South African Richard Levi was out caught for 41 after miscuing a pull shot to Dawid Malan at mid-on with the score at 210-4.

The wicket followed James Harris grabbing his third of the day when he snaffled captain Alex Wakely, caught behind by wicketkeeper Robbie White for 18 at 131-3.

It had been back to red ball cricket for Middlesex and Northamptonshire during the first morning of their County Championship match at Wantage Road on Sunday.

Unsurprisingly with overcast skies there was an uncontested toss which saw the home side bat first.

Both sides will have been glad to see the back of the T20 Blast with the Seaxes finishing rock-bottom of the southern group while Northants ended the short format of the game propping up the northern table.

The home side captained by Alex Wakely made two changes from side that lost at Chesterfield with Josh Cobb and Seekkuge Prasanna replaced by Rory Kleinveldt and Saif Zaib.

Richard Johnson’s side came into the match in fifth place, 41 points behind leaders Warwickshire – who Middlesex beat by 18 runs last time out in a thrilling match at Lord’s.

Promising young seamer Ethan Bamber was handed his first class debut as the visitors made one change, with offspinner Ollie Rayner missing out.

The 19-year-old rising star has represented the club from the U15s onwards and was England’s joint leading-wicket taker at U19 World Cup in New Zealand and the delight the youngsters face was clear to see beforehand.

One fact which emerged to pique interest is Bamber’s father played the role of Hitler in the Hollywood blockbuster Valkyrie, alongside Tom Cruise who starred as Claus von Stauffenberg as the plot to assasinate the evil Nazi dictator was portrayed in celloid.

As an aside, the word Valkirye in Nordic mythology referred to each of Odin’s twelve handmaids who conducted the slain warriors of their choice from the battlefield to Valhalla as a form of paradise.

For the youngster Bamber, Wantage Road was certainly his Valhalla on Sunday morning, even if his opening over was peppered, understandably, with a few looseners laced with first-day nerves.

Earlier Under gunmetal grey skies James Harris made an early breakthrough with the help of an inside edge by bowling Ben Duckett for seven with the score on 16-1.

Harris could and should have had a second wicket but Eoin Morgan dropped the Johannesburg-born wicketkeeper batsman Ricardo Vasconcelos after downing a regulation catch at first slip off his bowling, as the left-handed bat lived to fight another day on 28 after the home side had moved onto 68-1.

Harris did get his second of the morning an over later after removing Luke Procter lbw for 26 with the score on 75-2 to end a productive partnership of 59 as Northants ended the morning on 107-2, with Vasconcelos unbeaten on 47 and captain Wakely not out 13 – before the South African moved on to his impressive century at the end of the second session.

Follow Middlesex CCC reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29

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