Hughes' maiden hundred dominates recovery
Northamptonshire 6 for 1 trail Derbyshire 361 (Hughes 111*, Rutherford 60, Kleinveldt 4-99) by 355 runs
Alex Hughes made his maiden first-class century as Derbyshire made a healthy first innings 361 on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Northamptonshire.
Hughes century, made from 141 balls with 17 boundaries, steered his side away from trouble and to a solid total having opted to bat first at Wantage Road.
Hughes arrived at the crease with his side in a tricky spot at 148 for 4 but eventually Hughes found a willing partner in Harvey Hosein.
The pair shared a stand of 76 for the seventh wicket and Derbyshire went on to enjoy much the better of the first day's play, particularly when Mark Footitt dismissed Ben Duckett for a golden duck as Northamptonshire came out to face two overs before the close.
Hughes, with a previous first-class best of 82 and just three first-class half-centuries, began swiftly before getting a little stuck having passed a half-century in 70 balls.
However, he drove Rory Kleinveldt through the covers and then flicked him handsomely through midwicket to bring up a third batting point before flicking two runs through square leg to raise a first-class best and cutting his 14th and 15th boundaries to go into the 90s.
By that stage he had only No. 11 Ben Cotton for company but Cotton survived for 10 balls to give Hughes every chance to reach his ton. A firm on-drive found Stephen Peters before a similar stroke off Olly Stone brought up a richly-deserved century and a fourth batting bonus point.
"It feels amazing, the best moment of my career so far and to know that I did it in a tough spot and got the team out of trouble is even better," Hughes said. "They got their tails up and we had to get in but me and Harv got settled and we went from there. I was a bit frantic and had a crazy 20 minutes but managed to settled myself down and it got easier. I've worked really hard over the winter and to make it pay off here is very satisfying."
He had to battle through swinging conditions with significant movement on offer throughout the day for the Northamptonshire bowlers and they took five Derbyshire wickets in the afternoon session to gain control of the day.
Hamish Rutherford made a bright start, passing fifty in 109 balls with nine fours, but, drove firmly at Northamptonshire debutant Ben Sanderson and found Stone at short mid-off.
Sanderson added the wicket of Tony Palladino after tea and 2 for 49 represented a solid effort in his first Championship match since May 2008.
Rutherford shared a stand of 76 for the second wicket with Chesney Hughes but the Derbyshire No. 3 reached 32 before he dragged an attempted lofted drive against Rob Keogh straight to short midwicket.
Wes Durston survived a sharp chance at third slip when on one but drove Keogh handsomely through cover and swept him through square leg for his second boundary.
However, on 20, he became the first of two caught-behind dismissals for Kleinveldt in the afternoon session. The second was Shiv Thakor, who fell for 8. At that stage Derbyshire were 196 for 6, before the recovery began.
Earlier, Rutherford was forced to be watchful in swinging conditions but Derbyshire played well enough to justify Wayne Madsen's decision at the toss.
The opening pair of Rutherford and Billy Godleman added a bright 47 before Godleman edged a drive behind from the bowling of Kleinveldt - but it was the only wicket to fall in the morning.
The hosts dragged themselves back in the afternoon - but Hughes' century ensured it was Derbyshire's first day.