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    Hammond's century lifts Gloucestershire
Hammond's century lifts Gloucestershire
Miles Hammond recorded his fourth first-class hundred. Source: Getty Images

Hammond's century lifts Gloucestershire

Miles Hammond struck a blistering 112 off 133 balls, his first century in two years, to help Gloucestershire post 338 for 8 against Northamptonshire on the opening day of this Vitality County Championship match at Wantage Road.

Despite hitting eight fifties last season and three so far this year, it was the first time Hammond had reached three figures since he made 169 against Hampshire at Cheltenham, the town of his birth, in 2022.

While the batting was never easy, with the swing on offer throughout the day, Hammond took the attacking route, hitting 17 boundaries and reaching his milestone by hitting Northamptonshire quick George Scrimshaw high over fine leg for a big six. There was also a solid 53 at the top of the order from Gloucestershire's Australian overseas signing Cameron Bancroft.

Meanwhile, India's Siddarth Kaul made an immediate impact on his Northamptonshire debut, taking 4 wickets for 58 in 23 overs, including three in the afternoon session. Ultimately, however, his new county was unable to build on their advantage of 119 for 3 as Gloucestershire made hay in the afternoon sunshine against some loose bowling.

Northamptonshire made a good fightback, taking three late wickets with the new ball, including one for evergreen seamer Ben Sanderson, playing his 100th first-class match for his adopted county.

Northamptonshire won the toss and elected to bowl, fielding a largely new-look attack with Scrimshaw playing only his second match for the Tudor Rose and Nottinghamshire spinning all-rounder Liam Patterson-White on a one-match loan.

Gloucestershire batted solidly in the morning, with Bancroft taking advantage of Scrimshaw's extra pace, pulling him for four and cutting him crisply for two more boundaries.

But it was the former Derbyshire bowler who made the first breakthrough, lifting a delivery to Ben Charlesworth (16) who could only edge back.

Northamptonshire continued to press and create in the hour before lunch. New wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Price took 29 balls to get to the crease and both he and Bancroft edged balls to the slips.

After the break, Kaul picked up the big wicket of Bancroft when he fell lbw to the third delivery of the session. The bowler, who is hoping to impress the Indian Test selectors during his stint with Northamptonshire, bowled consistently throughout the day and found plenty of movement to trouble the batsmen.

Kaul then trapped Price (10) with a peach of a delivery that angled in before swinging away to take the edge, Emilio Gay taking an excellent diving catch at second slip.

Hammond, though, was in fine form, playing two glorious swivel pull shots off Scrimshaw before hitting him square for another boundary and driving Kaul firmly through the covers. He also took on the spin of Patterson-White, twice sending him over the infield.

He was joined in a partnership of 75 for the fourth wicket by James Bracey (33), who smashed Sanderson for two fours and hit Patterson-White over midwicket before becoming Kaul's third wicket, adjudged lbw to a full delivery that returned.

Hammond and skipper Graeme van Buuren (46) then put on 67 for the second wicket, runs flowing freely as Northamptonshire failed to capitalise on the movement on offer. Hammond fell shortly after his century, coming down the wicket off Patterson-White and chipping the ball to midwicket where Ricardo Vasconcelos took a stunning diving catch.

Van Buuren brought out the sweep off Patterson-White to take Gloucestershire past 300 before the momentum swung back in Northamptonshire's favour.

Sanderson, who had been unlucky not to take a wicket earlier in the day, was also erratic, leaking runs down the leg side. He was eventually caught by Vasconcelos at third slip off the edge of van Buuren. Then Tom Price (23), dropped early in his innings, was finally caught at slip to give Luke Procter a well-deserved reward after working hard all day.

Zafar Gohar became Kaul's fourth wicket when he was edged behind, but the bowler was denied a fifth in the penultimate over when Gay dropped Marchant de Lange at slip.

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