County Championship: Opening Division Two game for Middlesex at home to Northampton conjures up Lord’s memories for Stephen Peters
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Former Northants man helped team to success at Home of Cricket in 2010
“I sat with my pads on in a bath for about 45 minutes,” says one former Northamptonshire player describing his mixed emotions after one of the more notable innings by one of the county’s batsmen at Lord’s.
Northants open their Specsavers County Championship campaign at Middlesex on Friday and travel with an excellent recent record at the Home of Cricket — two draws and two victories on their last two visits, one of which, in 2010, was led by one of Stephen Peters’ most memorable innings.
“I remember it very well,” Peters says. “It was a lovely sunny week and I always enjoyed playing at Lord’s whether I got runs or not. I always made the effort to get up and walk down to the ground from the hotel and normally have breakfast in the dressing room and take every opportunity to spend as much time at the ground as possible – and then have a drink in the Tavern after play.”
Peters had already seen plenty of the Middlesex attack that season – his unbeaten 183 led Northants to their record first-class run-chase when they made 395 for 4 to win at Wantage Road. And as Peters took guard on the second day at Lord’s, it would be another 540 minutes before Middlesex finally dismissed him.
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“It was a good pitch, sunny weather, quick outfield, real friendly batting conditions - you get good value for your runs there and I got in and was determined to make the most of it,” says Peters. “I’d had quite a few 170s, 180s and I was starting to kick myself because I hadn’t had a double hundred up until that point.”
The elusive double-century drew nearer as Peters entered the 190s. “I remember vividly the build up to it happening, what happened, and then what happened afterwards more than anything else.
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“I got to 190 and then they really put the pressure on me. Shaun Udal - the wily old fox - was bowling at me with a ring field and mid-on and mid-off slightly hanging back so it was difficult to go over the top without risk – and you couldn’t run singles to them.
“I had about 10 overs stuck in the 190s and it was all singles. I was getting a little frustrated that I didn’t have that ball to put away.”
One more single would do as Peters faced Udal on 199. But trying to force the off-spinner through midwicket, a leading edge sent a catch back to the bowler.
“I was horribly gutted,” says Peters. “There was a bit of a silence when I was walking back head in hands, absolutely distraught that I hadn’t made 200. Behind the dressing rooms were these baths in individual little cubicles and I went and sat in one with my pads on for about 45 minutes and had an almighty sulk.
“Nobody came near me. The dressing room was dead silent when I walked in. I was pretty mortified but eventually I slapped myself round the face and realised I’d made 199 at Lord’s and not everybody gets the chance to do that. I’d played pretty well and the Tavern was waiting for a drink.”
Peters’ innings led Northants to victory by nine wickets and his double-century followed a season later with 222 at Swansea. Northants will hope the good form he helped cultivate at Lord’s can be a good omen for their season opener in 2018.