George Hill belied his lack of previous experience against the new ball to play an impressive opener’s knock during an otherwise forgettable day one of Yorkshire’s crucial LV= Insurance County Championship fixture against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

Hill, the 20-year-old all-rounder opening for the first time, posted 71 in 170 balls in his county’s 158 having elected to bat on a slow pitch.

Northants later responded with 61-2 from 21 overs on a day cut short by eight overs due to rain.

This is the ninth and penultimate fixture in the initial group stage of the Championship, and it is Yorkshire in second v Northants in third in Group Three.

The gap is 12 points as they chase a top two finish to advance to the top group in late August and through September.

The six best qualifying teams will then battle for the Championship title and the Bob Willis Trophy.

Yorkshire may hold the advantage in the group, but any slip up here could prove costly with leaders Lancashire to play in the final round at Emerald Headingley this time next week.

And that slip up may well have happened.

Forty minutes of rain from 12.10pm cut two overs from the allotted 96 before six more were lost between 5.35pm and 5.50pm. The rest of play happened under floodlights and a mixture of sunshine and cloud.

Debutant Sam Northeast batted at three and made three before being caught behind off the miserly seam of Tom Taylor – the pick of the Northants bowlers with 2-14 from 11 overs.

Northeast seemed to be undone by a lack of pace as he nibbled at a back of a length delivery from Taylor (21-2 in the 10th over).

Earlier, Adam Lyth was caught behind for a duck playing forward at a Ben Sanderson delivery which nipped away fractionally.

Northants held their lines and lengths and forced the mistakes during an attritional day’s play.

Yorkshire reached an early lunch at 38-2 in the 18th over and lost four wickets in the afternoon as Hill held firm.

In previous second-team Championship games, he has never batted higher than four but is helping deal with the loss of injured duo Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Will Fraine.

He largely played within himself, leaving well and putting away the bad ball, including launching Simon Kerrigan for a lovely straight six during the afternoon.

He had been dropped on 31 at second slip by Gareth Berg off Wayne Parnell early in the session – a rare loose stroke.

Gary Ballance, Harry Brook, Dom Bess and Harry Duke all fell during the afternoon, two of them to the left-arm spin of Kerrigan.

Ballance and Brook will be frustrated at being caught off miscues trying to attack Kerrigan. Ballance, for 22, was caught backward of square-leg sweeping and Brook at mid-wicket trying to go over the top.

When Bess edged seamer Berg behind, Yorkshire were 112-5 in the 47th over.

And the best part of six overs later, they were 126-6 when Duke was trapped lbw for five, stuck on the crease against Taylor.

Wickets fell quickly after tea as Yorkshire slipped into significant danger, losing their last four for 16 inside six overs as they slipped from 142-6 in the 60th.

Hill was the first of those, trapped lbw playing forward to a turning delivery from the off-spin of Rob Keogh (142-7). Two balls later, Steve Patterson chipped to point, giving Keogh two wickets in the 60th.

Ben Coad was bowled by Parnell, who then trapped Jordan Thompson lbw for 22 as he tried to attack with only Duanne Olivier for company.

Parnell, Kerrigan and Keogh all finished with two wickets as no other Yorkshire batsman aside from Hill topped 22.

Bess claimed the first of two Northants wickets to fall in reply, trapping Emilio Gay lbw.

He broke a 54-run stand with Ricardo Vasconcelos, their stand-in captain who was capped before play and closed on 32, before Patterson had night-watchman Kerrigan caught at short-leg with a beauty of a short ball (61-2).

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