Newton injury overshadows Sales ton
Northamptonshire 244 for 4 (Sales 104*, Middlebrook 57*) v Kent
Rob Newton suffered a fractured bone just above his left wrist as Northamptonshire were made to fight hard to reach 244 for 4 against Kent at Canterbury. The injury overshadowed the first day for Northants, who now fear the 22-year-old batsman will also miss the start of the Friends Life t20 in early June.
David Sales and James Middlebrook added an unbroken 157 for the fifth wicket to boost Northants after they had slipped from 69 for 1 to 87 for 4 in the first hour after lunch, with Sales reaching 104 not out by the close. Middlebrook was still there too on a battling 57, and in the end Kent's bowling attack was made to toil on a slow surface.
Newton's fracture is expected to sideline him for between four and five weeks and he will play no further part in this game. He retired hurt on 23, after initially facing two more balls from Matt Coles, following the blow from a rising delivery from the England Lions fast bowler.
He had needed five minutes of treatment on the field from the physio before deciding to bat on, but when he clipped the second ball after the resumption wide of mid-on for two runs he signalled to the dressing room that the pain in his arm was too great to continue.
Northants were 46 without loss when Newton went off, having won the toss and decided to take first use of a slow but good-looking St Lawrence Ground pitch. Stephen Peters also batted well in that opening stand, but had lost Newton's replacement at the crease, Kyle Coetzer, before lunch.
Coetzer was bowled by Mark Davies, aiming to drive the former Durham seamer, and when Peters fell to the second ball after the lunch interval, lbw for 34, it triggered a mini-collapse which left Kent well on top. Charlie Shreck did the further damage, having Northants captain Andrew Hall well held at long leg by Davies as he skied an attempted pull and then bowling left-hander Niall O'Brien through the gate as he pushed defensively at a superb ball that swung back into him and clipped the top of the stumps.
But that was the last Kent success of the day as Sales, with his first Championship century for almost two years, and Middlebrook built their partnership. Former Northants captain Sales reached his hundred from 196 balls and at stumps he had batted for almost four and a half hours.
Middlebrook completed his fifty from 158 balls but he proved to be the perfect foil for Sales, who played some lovely early strokes against James Tredwell's offspin and then took successive leg-side boundaries off Shreck, armed with the second new ball, to go swiftly into the 90s.