OPENER Will Young personified an obdurate batting performance by Northamptonshire on the first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match with Essex at Chelmsford.

The New Zealand batter followed up his match-saving 96 against Yorkshire last week with a painstaking 63 before Northants lost a clutch of late wickets to creep to 233 for seven at the close.

Young’s 100-run partnership for the second wicket with Emilio Gay set the tone for a day of frustration for the Essex attack.

After Young became the second of Sam Cook’s two victims, the cudgels were taken up by Luke Procter, around whom Northants’ middle-order resistance was built. The left-hander will resume on Friday morning with a score of 60 from 164 balls.

Essex’s decision to put Northants in appeared to have been vindicated immediately when Ricardo Vasconcelos edged Sam Cook’s third ball into the slip cordon.

Thereafter, the Essex bowlers toiled on a benign strip that offered little before they finally parted Gay and Young, who dug in for a workmanlike 38-over partnership that had few frills, few thrills and even fewer chances. It became the story of the day.

It was a far cry from Northamptonshire’s calamitous visit to Chelmsford last September that resulted in the shortest match of the modern four-day era as it finished half-an-hour into day two.

This time, though, the visitors passed the 45 that constituted their second-innings total then, inside 20 painstaking overs, while the 81 of their 2021 first innings was overtaken with the first ball after lunch here – in an over where Young hit Shane Snater for three fours from alternate deliveries.

Sam Cook kept the pair in check in a seven-over opening spell in which the seamer conceded just eight runs, the only dent coming when Gay pulled him with supreme nonchalance to the boundary.

The second-wicket stand had reached three-figures when it was finally broken. Snater got one to move away from 22-year-old left-hander Gay and Sir Alastair Cook took the catch low down to his right at first slip.

Young’s three-hour, 146-ball stay ended soon after when he shouldered arms to a ball from Cook that nipped back off the seam and trapped him lbw.

Proctor and Rob Keogh put on 45 quietly and efficiently in 16 overs until the stroke of tea when Keogh prodded tentatively at a delivery from Matt Critchley that the bowler caught tumbling forward just above his boot-straps.

Paul Walter, called in to replace loanee Adam Rossington – who was denied permission to play against his parent club – claimed the scalp of Saif Zaib with his rarely-seen medium pacers, pinned lbw shuffling across the stumps.

Lewis McManus hung around for 45 minutes before falling cheaply for seven as he wafted at one outside off-stump from Snater and Simon Harmer pounced in front of Alastair Cook at first slip to snaffle the catch.

If Sam Cook was the pick of the Essex bowlers with his two wickets, then the Australian Mark Steketee chose the fourth of his six-match stint to bowl his most controlled and impressive spell since he joined at the start of the season.

Steketee’s efforts were finally rewarded when Harmer took a sharp one-handed catch at second slip to account for Tom Taylor just before stumps.