Richard Gleeson seized the opportunity to play his first competitive cricket of the season and took five wickets against his former county as Lancashire had the best of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Emirates Old Trafford.
Gleeson finished with five for 63 as Northamptonshire were dismissed for 230 and by the close Lancashire had reached 29 for one in reply.
Despite the departure of Haseeb Hameed, who was caught behind when pushing forward to Ben Sanderson for seven, Lancashire appeared to be well-placed for the game’s second day, when the Old Trafford pitch often eases.
However, the home side by no means had things all their own way. Luke Procter made 48 and added 70 for the seventh wicket with Luke Wood, who top-scored with 66 in the first game of his second loan spell with the Wantage Road club.
The visitors encountered most of their woes in the afternoon session. Having reached lunch on 80 for two, both Ricardo Vasconcelos and Alex Wakely nicking catches to Lancashire wicketkeeper Dane Vilas, Northants lost four wickets in little more than an hour’s cricket after the resumption.
Blackpool-born Gleeson returned to remove both Rob Newton for 32 and Rob Keogh for three, both lbw, in the first five overs of the session.
That left the visitors on 101 for four but worse was to follow in the next over when Rob Jones dived to take a superb gully catch off Tom Bailey and send Josh Cobb on his way on his way without scoring.
Graham Onions may then have been fortunate to get a leg before decision against Temba Bavuma but the South African debutant’s dismissal for 39 left his side on 119 for six.
Almost all the rest of the play before tea, however, was dominated by a shrewd partnership between Procter, who once batted with similar aplomb for Lancashire, and the Nottinghamshire loanee, Wood, several of whose nine boundaries came from cuts and drives through the off side.
Just before the close of an absorbing session Procter was caught at slip by Keaton Jennings for 48, thus giving Gleeson his first five-wicket haul for Lancashire and ending Procter’s vital stand with Wood, who was unbeaten on 38 at the break.
Northamptonshire’s eighth-wicket pair, Wood and his fellow loanee, Jamie Overton, added 19 more runs in the evening session before Overton was leg before to Onions who three balls later plucked out Nathan Buck’s off stump before the batsman had scored.
Wood was the last man out when he skied a hook off Onions and Bailey dived to take a fearsome steepler at long leg. That wicket gave Onions figures of four for 45 at the end of an innings in which he had given Gleeson excellent support.